Aged 21 and fresh out of college, I decided to hitch hike to India to study the various religions there. I also wanted the adventure! Running short of money in Istanbul I acted on a tip and headed to Israel where I was told jobs were available in the copper mines. Bad tip: no jobs! And now I had no money either.
Having a vague memory of a vicar from my town who’d gone to Israel I knocked on the first church I saw in Jerusalem to see if he could help, even though I hadn’t met and didn’t know him. In one of those wonderfully serendipitous moments that are part and parcel of living adventurously, I was told his church was in Haifa but he was in Jerusalem for a short stay….100 metres from where I was standing.
This gent is in my personal Hall of Fame. He took me in and gave me lodgings for as long as I wanted. He introduced me to lots of interesting people, took me to loads of amazing places and asked nothing in return. Then came one of the biggest lessons of my life. He asked me to read a lesson from the bible in his church. Now I was a qualified teacher, reasonably educated and confident. Yet I also stuttered and because of that wasn’t too keen on reading in front of others. Embarrassed though I am to say it, I pretended to be ill so I wouldn’t have to.
I felt awful and made a decision that day…that I would do whatever it takes to conquer my stammer (there was no physical basis for it) and would take every opportunity to speak in public. Today my stuttering is mostly a thing of the past and I now speak professionally….as well as regularly speaking in churches! Something of the full circle there. I also teach others how to speak and how to overcome all manner of fears. A great life!
I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if I had given in to that particular fear; after all, when you give in once it’s easier to give in again…and again…and again.
Oh yes, I never did get to India on that occasion. I tried again the following year riding a 50cc Yamaha but crashed in Wolverhampton without leaving the UK. In another example of completing the circle, however, I was bowled over when my family gave me a surprise present on my 70th birthday recently. You’ve guessed it:
a trip to India! And this time I’ll leave the side trip to the copper mines. Never give up!
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