Mine burrowed unnoticed under the scalp, gnawed through the skull, chomped the membrane and tunneled deep into my consciousness.
It fed veraciously upon nourishing matter and healthy thoughts.
Crawling through the cells, devouring and consuming as it went. A trail of masticated flesh and detritus in its path.
I’m not alone, there’s a plague of them. Most people have one; most don’t know it!
Mine got in when I was only nineteen and by the time I had discovered its intrusion, and done something about it, immeasurable damage had been done.
YOU almost certainly have one.
You probably won’t know it’s there. You won’t feel its swollen body flexing, you won’t feel the jaws closing, you won’t hear the vessels parting as the creature burrows, you won’t smell the fetid meat. If you have a maggot, you’ve got a problem … a real problem!
When I first left England many moons ago, I went to work in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, selling timeshare!!!
Whoooooaahh … wait … before you click away and vow never to read another word written by me again … I was young, I was just a boy who could see no future as an Advertising Art Director living in London.
I’d left glorious Cornwall where I trained for the big city, lured by bright lights, long lunches and a promising career. After six months of interviews, dogsbody positions, having ideas stolen and living in a broom cupboard (honestly), I became rather disillusioned.
Timeshare was my first job and I didn’t know any better … I’m sorry!!! (Actually, I’m not sorry at all 🙂
I went to work abroad lured by an advert placed in a Sunday paper, which merely read:
How Would You Like to Earn £1,000 ($1,500) per Week, Working on a Beautiful Tropical Island in 300 Days of Sun?
I answered the ad, got the job after promising to cut my long, heavy rocker hair; I packed my bags and caught the next flight out. I was gone from the smog faster than a rat up a drainpipe!
I arrived in the sun and to my surprise, all the hype was true! We were met at the airport and were immediately handed keys to company cars. We raced like maniacs to the town and were given more keys to our apartments which were set around our own communal pool.
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
Those were great times, young, free of the grind and earning awesome money. There were several hundred of us on the island working for various companies and the stories … Well! That’s a script for a future movie!
After a couple of years I was head-hunted and moved on to Lanzarote. I was promoted to a management position and given a ridiculous, tax-free salary with a company car thrown in!
That was thirty years ago when you could buy a house for a year’s wages. I was in my prime, full of testosterone and on a mission. This was my first job and I honestly thought I would never want for anything again … ever!!!
One evening, I was drinking with a bunch of friends and colleagues on the balcony overlooking the pool, one eye on the bikini-clad mermaids. One of the lad’s mother was visiting, had joined us for a tipple and was also enjoying the relaxed atmosphere … one eye on the hard-bodies!
Later that evening the conversation turned to astrology, horoscopes and predicting the future. One of those conversation that turned to ‘beer bollocks’ once the liqueur started flowing!
My argument was that it’s all a complete load of bull, that you could read any star sign on a given day and it would have some tortuous, convoluted relevance to your life … any life in fact!
The secret to good horoscope writing is to ensure complete ambiguity for a prediction and to ensure the advice is vague. That way, anyone reading will always find a situation that will fit their circumstances.
‘Today you’ll meet someone wearing purple’ … well blow me, if I didn’t meet someone wearing purple socks!
If clairvoyants are that bloody perceptive, why don’t they give a prediction like: ‘The FTSE will drop 100 points today, but rise 150 tomorrow, today’s a good day for snapping up a few cheap shares!’
Eventually, my friend piped up: “My mom has a gift, she can read people’s future; all she needs is something personal from you.”
Now, this lady was in her late fifties I would say, graying a little, with no particular attributes, just a regular, everyday mother … who shouldn’t have had one eye on the hard-bodies.
“Is that true?” I asked.
Apparently, she had done this reading thing many times before with amazing accuracy, note the use of the word ‘apparently!’
Anyway, I was intrigued, had nothing to lose, so I gave her a ring I used to wear, one which had some sentimental value at the time.
I won’t bore you with the details, but she sat on that balcony on that cloudless, balmy night, rubbing the ring (no that’s not a sex thing!) and describing the pictures that appeared spontaneously before her eyes. She did this for around an hour.
We had never met before and no meaningful conversation about my past had taken place yet her accuracy was stunning. Clairvoyants usually ask leading questions which will steer their predictions but she had not.
She described things that at the time I didn’t recall so dismissed her ramblings. She asked if the name Coxon meant anything … it didn’t!
Days later I began remembering the events that she had recited. She’d mentioned a name that wasn’t quite right, she’d said Coxon. At the time this meant nothing to me and it wasn’t until a couple of days later it clicked. The person who had given me the ring some years previously was named Poxon.
How in the reign of Spotted Dick would she have known that???
She’d demonstrated incredible insight … BUT … that wicked, evil, sorceress also planted my maggot.
That night she said something to me; something that drove so deep. A single passing comment that bore but a second on the breath and that would have a profound affect on my life.
In just one fleeting sentence, in a single moment, she introduced the maggot into my brain. A collage of trivial words floated on the cool sea air and meant nothing to her … it almost crippled me!
Here is that sentence in all its infamous glory:
“You will always be comfortable, but you will never be a millionaire.”
That’s all she said!
A simple sentence that would eat away at me for years.
Here lay the contradiction, she was so right with everything else she had said, extraordinary accuracy, that if she knew what she did about the past, why couldn’t she be as precise about the future?
Before she said those heinous words, I had been convinced that I would retire by the time I was thirty. I thought I was going to lead a jet-set life enjoying all the trappings wealth could bring. I felt I was well on my way already.
It wasn’t to be!!!
A few months later the company I was working for closed down and eventually the money dried up. Well it didn’t actually close down, it eventually transpired that it was part of an elaborate scam involving some very serious gangland characters … and that’s another movie script!
That was it, I was never to earn good money again until I had dealt with The Maggot.
From that day forth, every time things did not go well, I would console myself by saying: “That’s the way it’s meant to be; it’s my destiny.” Therefore, that’s the way it always was!
I could not break free of the tethers that hold back success because that woman had convinced me I never would. I got so twisted up inside. I knew I ought to be successful; I knew I had the desire, the ambition, the drive, but “why should I bother?” The good things were never going to come my way … The Maggot was chewing up and spitting out any logical arguments to the contrary.
It got so bad at one point I convinced myself that I was possessed by badness and even considered getting exorcised by the local preacher! A relative had me believing for a while back then, that it does happen; evil spirits can occupy a living body … and I was well and truly squatted!
I had assured myself that bad luck was my bedfellow, it tore me apart and made me darn miserable at times.
On a conscious level, I wanted everything money could buy, deep down I believed with unequivocal certainty … ‘I would never be a millionaire!’
It’s not what that woman said which held me back, it was how I interpreted it.
It took many years but once I understood that it was not destiny, which was holding me back, but my own attitude to circumstance, then the change in me was significant and immediate.
That very moment things started to change. I instantly stopped blaming my failures on outside forces because I now realised they had absolutely nothing to do with my success. What I learned was that I can’t blame my shortcomings on anything, or anyone except myself and especially a few words slurred on a drunken evening.
It’s easy to give in to The Maggot and fall short … it’s bloody easy to find excuses for failure. An excuse however, that’s an outside influence; a third party … it’s us looking beyond for somewhere to place the blame for your failures.
And it’s a huge issue in society today … BLAME CULTURE.
It’s cheap, nasty, it’s a cop out … it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault. Fuck me, it’s like dealing with children!
In response to concerns that volcanic ash ejected during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland would damage aircraft engines, the controlled airspace of many European countries was closed to instrument flight rules traffic, resulting in the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II. The closures caused millions of passengers to be stranded not only in Europe, but across the world. With large parts of European airspace closed to air traffic, many more countries were affected as flights to, from, and over Europe were cancelled.(Credit Wikipedia)
Now imagine being the bloke that had to put his moniker on the document that assured the world ‘It’s OK to fly’.
White Island just off the North Island of New Zealand went off recently and killed some people. It was terrible, granted and within moments, ‘they‘ we’re pointing fingers and looking for somewhere to place the blame. Volcanoes burp, tours had been taken on the island for thirty years but this thoroughly unpredictable event was someone’s fault and they were going to pay. They even blamed the tour guides, the rescue pilots and adventure tourism on the state news.
And it’s getting worse! I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but I often feel we need something significant to refocus the mind; something like another war, something to really be concerned about!
All this bickering, trivial, irrelevant drivel … Really?
Grab a sky hook and the world will spin below you at 11,000 mph
The plain truth is that once you’ve discovered The Maggot, exorcised it, then what is there left to blame?
Everyone has a maggot … some are infested with them. Everyone can reach back into the deepest recesses and find at least one.
Often, someone we admire secretes it there. We tried to live up to our idol’s expectations and couldn’t. Maybe we tried desperately to impress them in someway and were dismissed casually.
I remember asking the school’s top girl to go out with me on a date, she just sneered and laughed! And knocked any flicker of confidence out of me in an instant. I went back to heavy metal, my mates and left girls till another era!
Actually, she did me a great favour as I saw her recently and phew! … Let’s just say in my chauvinistic way that she hadn’t blossomed!!! Isn’t it strange how those you considered as being most attractive at school often let themselves go and the ugly ducklings often become swans? Is it because the ducklings try harder?
Anyway, I digress … again!
The most innocuous occurrences can plant The Maggot.
We rarely understand why we let a casual remark have such a dramatic effect on us. Maybe it’s the subconscious looking for an excuse to stay in the comfort zone, who knows … Who cares?
So long as you look for it, find it, and deal with it!
I once knew a man who loved to write. He loved painting elaborate pictures in words and his stories were inspiring. His problem was, that he had lousy handwriting. One day, he proudly presented his best ever work to the English teacher who promptly gave him a ‘D’.
The teacher told the lad, wrongly, that until he improved his handwriting, he would never be able to write … He never wrote another story!
The teacher had planted such an enormous maggot that this person became a chef so as to avoid writing. It wasn’t until middle age when he was having other, unrelated problems and was talking them through, did he finally realise the damage he had let that teacher do to his life.
He broke down in tears. After a period of time he came to terms with what had been said in the past and how much he had let it hold him back. It wasn’t what the teacher had said, after all, he only wanted to encourage the child to improve his handwriting … it was how my friend had interpreted it.
He had taken it as a personal attack and used this apparent deformation as an excuse not to do well in other areas. Once he came to terms with the problem the weight finally lifted and he began to write beautiful stories again. The excess baggage he had been carrying all those years was cast off, The Maggot died.
I have seen a similar scenario played out with my own son. He is really intelligent (well just look at his genes!) and loves writing but his handwriting is appalling. I have watched in horror as his new teacher has knocked the stuffing out of his confidence … just because his writing is messy.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s what the words say, not how they’re presented. Who gives a flying fuck if his writing is not up to scratch when his stories are first rate, after all, who writes with those old fashioned, pen things anyway?
The irony of all this was that when we’d get his report we’d have to try and decipher and best guess the headmaster’s comments as they are totally illegible.
My son has moved on. Fortunately he’s blossomed and has developed an excellent grounding in I. He didn’t let those teachers hold him back, he understands The Power of The Maggot. He’s just graduated with merit from his journalism course and works for us as a content writer. Love him!
Once I realised that it was me, and once I understood it was my own superstitions and self-destruction that was preventing me from succeeding and not some misguided karma; once I crushed my maggot … The sun came out, the light came in … and I took one more step towards freedom.
Take some time out today, now, this moment. Find a quite place for reflection. Walk though the corridors of your existence. Open the doors, look in the cupboards. Explore the darkest corners and seek out any malignant maggots … I’m sure you’ll find one and when you do, put a fucking great big hobnail boot on it.