Thursday, 12 November 2015

How Four Days, Three Flights, Two Concerts and a Pumpkin Changed My Life

Or Why I Delivered Flowers to Dave Grohl

The plan was beautiful in its simplicity. Take a package to a florist and get them to deliver it along with a floral display.

Except that sometimes the universe likes to throw curve-balls in order to test and change us.

I'd finished a book and screenplay that I wanted to get into someone's hands. Unfortunately, I don't have that person's contact details so getting it to them was going to need some creative logistics.

Which is how I wound up in Berlin armed with a package of bound papers and a list of florists. I landed in Germany on Saturday afternoon, giving me enough time to make my drop off once I'd checked into my hotel.

The flight to Berlin

Only I hadn't thoroughly done my research. Unlike the UK, Berlin doesn't have Sunday shop openings nor deliveries. And I didn't have a plan B. In the ways of any bad gambler, I'd bet everything on one option and hoped I'd hit the jackpot.

Once upon a time, when I was medicated, I was very methodical. Back then, I'd have spoken to people, done my homework and found out that nothing opens on a Sunday in Berlin. I'd have had plans A through Z ready before I left the UK.

In my determination to lead a drug free life, I've discovered that aspects of my previous life have died. This is in no way a bad thing as, at that point, I needed a monotonous routine to survive. Except that's not who I am and it did nothing to feed my heart and soul. Yet nothing would change while I was medicated.

As the drugs wore off, so things began to change. Some were for the better while some were for the worse. I had more energy and my brain processed things faster than it previously had (sometimes a little too fast). On the downside I began to forget things, my moods swung and I struggled to define the emotions I was feeling for the first time in a decade.

As I began to live back in the real world, I realised that my life purpose and my current life didn't match. I became frustrated and withdrawn. I know what I want to do with my life but I currently don't have the means to achieve it without the investment and help of other people.

So I seized the opportunity to go to Berlin and ask for help.

And nearly sabotaged myself in the process.

There's a lot of walls I've built around myself over the years. Walls of fear and uncertainty. No matter how much I enjoy being creative, I fear that my work isn't good enough. I'm scared of being scorned, humiliated or outright ignored. My default setting for the past year has been “Why bother? No one is listening”.

A section of the Berlin Wall

Then there's the crippling anxiety that prevents me from doing so many things. It's a feeling that makes me vomit.

But you want to know how and why I gave Dave Grohl a pumpkin filled with flowers.

One of my proofreaders had suggested that I pass the screenplay on to him. She's a wonderfully intuitive woman whose advice I'm always willing to listen to. After discussing it with the few other people in our group, I decided to give it a go. Because what did I have to lose?

With no one able to make a delivery, it was up to me to do it, an idea that filled me with fear. I had no plan B and had absolutely no intention of making such deliveries.

Except the universe also likes to send people to help us and I'm eternally grateful for the amazing group of people I've found myself surrounded by. Tom from Given to Live was also in Berlin and is one of the best motivators I've had the pleasure of meeting.

However, what was supposed to be a nice weekend in Germany turned in to a frustrated battle as he tried to talk me into a new plan. Meanwhile, I did what I normally did when faced with the cold, hard truth of what I needed to do. I shut down. I refused to speak or answer questions. I did everything in my power to ignore the situation because, in reality, I didn't want to face it. I was terrified of peoples reactions. Terrified of rejection and ridicule. Terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. Terrified that my voice, the one I'd cultivated through years of writing, wasn't strong enough.

I was terrified that I wasn't a good enough person to go through with this nor that I deserved anything that came from it. My self esteem and confidence were running on empty and had been for a long time. Where once I'd have jumped at the challenge, I now shrank back from it. I preferred to hide away rather than face the possibilities of what I could do. I was no longer a human being. I was a human doing, one who followed the rigid rules of life. I refused to allow myself to feel. Refused to follow the instinct that had been gnawing at my gut for the past year. Refused to acknowledge that I can do whatever I put my mind to.

But there was no way Tom was giving up and, despite my rigid silence, he formulated a new plan.

I could have bought anything from that florist. Lilies, roses, something that was big, beautiful and bold. Instead, I was drawn to a corner where, on a low shelf, sat a pumpkin that had been hollowed out and filled with autumnal flowers. With it cradled in my arms, I paid for it and went back to the hotel.

However, come morning, I couldn't move. I was nauseous and paralysed with fear as the excitement of the previous night slid away. But I was in Berlin for a reason and I knew that I'd regret it forever if I didn't go through with everything I'd come to do.

Sometimes we need the tough love of our friends to make us realise exactly what we can do. We need them to help us see past the barriers we've built around ourselves and make us believe again. Despite the fears we need to be shown that sometimes we can battle through heaven and hell to see it through to the end. I had my ass kicked that weekend and, damn, I needed it. I'm so grateful that someone was there to help me remember who I truly am.

So with the pumpkin and screenplay packaged, I made my way out to the arena.

The journey felt unusually long. Where I normally would have listened to music, I instead sat and watched the city slide by. Every negative thought I'd had about myself over the previous months rolled through my mind. When the venue came into view, I wanted to vomit. When I exited the station, I wretched.

Finally I found myself standing before the arena's black and white facade. It was make or break time. I could turn around and go back to the hotel. Or I could begin to finish bringing down the walls I'd built around myself.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions and, for the first time in a long time, I feel free. I feel more like myself, like my wings are growing back. I feel ready to take on whatever challenges the future holds.

And the pumpkin? It was delivered.

Dave, if you're reading this, I hope the pumpkin made you smile, too. You have my email. Get in touch.

My Itinerary

Saturday 7th November – Fly from Birmingham to Berlin
Sunday 8th November – Foo Fighters show at the Mercedes Benz Arena
Monday 9th November – Fly from Berlin to Dublin and Megadeth show at the 3 Arena
Tuesday 10th November – Fly from Dublin to Birmingham

1 comment:

  1. Well done!! I had a niggling feeling you struggled with this trip but you fucking did it! You achieved your aim and I'm willing to bet the stress tension and anxiety you enjoyed doing it. Sending you lots of love always and as you recently told me dont give up on your dreams xxx