Words matter, deeds master

Words matter, deeds master

Words Matter, Deeds Master

“Most of us have much more idea of how we want to live than of why.” So says Sophie-Grace Chappel aka Timothy Chappell who wrote Knowing What to Do: Imagination, Virtue, and Platonism in Ethics (2014). In an elegant and deeply thought article in AEON Magazine s/he discusses gender change, a subject most people steer away from because of the indecision and complexity it implies. Avoiding the issue is daft for two reasons. First, we are all a mix of male and female quite beyond the sexual preferences we demonstrate – sometimes so enthusiastically that we may be underlining our own uncertainty. Second, as we learn to master the gender of the children we produce and the robots we create we will surely look to achieve the best of both genders.

In my early teens I was seen by an eminent psychiatrist. It was thought that I was malingering, pretending to have an illness that I didn’t have because I wanted to avoid school. (Actually it was only cricket that I wanted to avoid.) Nobody had so far diagnosed the osteomyelitis that a top surgeon subsequently said would kill me in six months. My conversation with the psychiatrist was initially perfunctory. I was insulted at having the appointment, he was annoyed at having been given a brief. Psychiatrists did not like being told what to say to their patients – even in the 1940s. After some discussion this worthy man said that I had a problem with sex. I confirmed that I did. I wanted to find out about it and nobody would tell me.

There was no upper shelf at the newsagents in those days. In the end I found out about sex in the backseat of a very small Austin Minor car owned by an obliging and somewhat older distant cousin. Our letters the next day crossed in the post. Mine apologised for such outrageous behaviour. Hers said that she would bring the big car next time. I had learnt about sex. I came to like the psychiatrist as the conversation veered further from the subject he had been told to address. One thing he said made me think a lot. After several tests, primitive by today’s standards I am sure, he said that my brain, not my sexual orientation, was about 50-50 male-female. I thought like both men and women.

I have no idea if he was right, nor if his diagnosis influenced my subsequent thinking, though I believe it must have done. I have noticed, however, that I do seem to think in a rational and creative feminine way at times and exhibit assertively masculine, land-grabbing behavior at other times. If the psychiatrist was correct, it is a blessing greater than most. That’s how I regard it, anyway. I tell you this story because I was very certain, from a child, of how I wanted to live. I wanted to be a farmer with all the rural activities that implies. A bad accident prevented me early in my career from following this line. At that point I decided if I couldn’t be a country boy I would become a city boy. From twenty onwards I have lived in cities, and hugely enjoyed them. But I still keep my love of the fields, the livestock, the trees and the views.

Boy, girl, rustic, city-slicker. You cannot ask for more variety in life. You also cannot fail to learn from it that what you say matters to others as well as to you, while what you do masters your life enough to be an example, albeit it a flawed one, for many people. Words express our highest thoughts, our most heartfelt feelings and our greatest spiritual aspirations. They can be touching, harsh, helpful, destructive. Matching deeds to words is the struggle we all have. When the two are apart we are neither believed nor followed. When our actions are in line with our aspirations, we are loved. This relationship between words and deeds is the basis for all collaboration and cohesion.

You cannot get how you live right until you decide why you live. When life is suddenly turned over by accident, failure, loss, shock, you have to mourn, ponder and survive. What seems to have been a disaster is often an opportunity to rediscover your purpose. You are on the brink of great learning and potential success. You don’t have to have such trauma but they often precipitate a self-examination. You can, at any time, work out your purpose in life. I was about 36 when I discovered mine. It has developed since then but the founding purpose persists.

Changing gender must be potentially the greatest trauma a person can face. Mostly we are not called upon to make such a change. But we are all called upon to make other, almost equally great changes in our lives to handle new learnings, understandings and technologies. All change is helped if we know who we are. Given that knowledge we can decide why we are. When we learn that we discover how to live.

Life, they say, begins at 40. We can make it begin when we like. We just need to know who we are and what we are for. If you do that your life will be transformed.

And the balance you bring to it will make you happy.

Because words matter, deeds master.

The Terrific Mentors International PASDAQ® programme has already helped thousands to find out who they are what is their purpose. For more information please email mentors@terrificmentors.com.