My story is one of a child who asked questions, constantely and continually and grew up into a man who learnt the value of asking the right questions.
Raised in a historic city in the North of England called Lancaster (Roman for Castle on the Lune river), I was born to a large family, the youngest of my parent’s children. I am an Aries, a tree doctor and I love adventure in all areas of my life. I am relentless in my purpose, passionate about my work, human with my flaws and kind because I choose to be so.
I loved my childhood and never really wanted it to end, I was comfortable in my own company and learnt the value of imagination from a young age. To me, the forest was home, the plants and trees my friends, I played endlessly in a world of make-believe. Needless to say, this world soon clashed with my unreality but my stubborn nature never relented on it, in fact, today I am still shaped by what I saw during those times. In my world, life was all adventure and the natural world was there to be explored.
As with so many, my teenage years were far less enjoyable, I grew away from playfulness and felt the pressures of the world grow atop my shoulders. I used video games to hide from that, in those, I was the hero again, the protagonist of my own story, I could play as I always had and mute out the world which I did not want to face. Once my parents split and my family home emptied I lost the feeling of happiness for a long time, It would be my first experience of what I came to understand was depression.
I realise now that an event changed my life during those times, I never really understood how at the time, or even gave it much notice until recently. I was in a supermarket with my mother, my thought train took me in a direction which led me to a realisation, one that froze me to my core as if I had fallen into a lake of ice. Before this point, death only ever existed as an existential concept, a vague idea, suddenly it was upon me and made real in every way other than the fact that I was alive.
I started to think deeply, I started to explore ideas, notions and concepts, to consider my place in the vast universe and this life people seemed so concerned with. something about humanity dawned on me, we are all quite mad, after all, I was told, taught and made to do, I understood it all meant nothing really. I found myself feeling very diferent from those around me and despite friendships and family, I wanted only to escape the matrix where people had identities, beliefs and ideas that did nothing but spread poison.
Over time I decided that the only path to truth was through faith, not a religious faith but a surrendering of what was ‘known’ because it was all fake and accepting the unknown, so that I could see reality as it was without a bias. After education, I found escapism ever more appealling and in my niavity, used this newfound faith as my excuse for avoidance and laziness. Luckily, a year working as a tree surgeon in another country certainly shocked me out of many subconscious patterns I had developed.
Throughout all of this time and up to today I have adventured the wilds with my closest friends, a connection with nature that is perhaps one of my strongest passions. Those days out exploring the world, breaking limits and finding ourselves in countless conundrums with only instinct and wit to get us through, that to me is life at its best. One of the first times we really pushed the boat out was a trip to Loch Lomond where we explored and camped its islands, naive and amazed at every turn.
I came to love life, love the connection only I had with it, I believe to this day that we all have this, a sense of connection to reality that is ours alone. I went travelling and let my hair grow, tried new things, expanded my belief system, went from one style of food to everything I could try. Dropping prejudices I didn’t even realise I had helped me experience a side to life that had been numbed by the false reality we all so easily buy into in the West. I often suffered mentally, going from highs to lows that nearly killed me, my faith still bringing me through I tried anything that helped me feel free.
Uncertainty and a developing inner journey lead me away from trees, I enjoyed climbing them and worked with some fantastic people but something was missing and I didn’t know what. I returned home lost again, believing I had discovered enlightenment I did not actually feel lost, my ethos became a minimalist one, that all pursuits were meaningless and that only complete embrace of nothingness could be seen as truth. Little did I realise that by choosing to live this way, the very choice took away any notion of freedom, I was bound to my choice, my choice to do nothing.
I never much did nothing either, my family let me live under their roofs, I was always doing odd jobs and adventuring my close friend, some of those times were really happy. I learnt a lot about who I was in those days and feared little of ridicule or society. In my friend I had a spiritual companion as well, someone I could explore matters of the soul with, a rarity today. Often we are labelled as religious or a nut or just ignored and passed over when such topics arise, eventually I learnt to avoid the topic altogether but during these days I had an outlet.
Life was waiting for its chance to give me a swift kick up the arse and that came with my first real experience of love. The tale is not pretty and I can remember little other than feeling defeated, desperate and trapped but I will say that despite all of this, to love and be loved was worth it all, we grew huge amounts together. To escape the madness I was forced to search outwardly again, I realised just how much I had to learn and another personal event kept me homebound for at least a few years. So it was I got a call about a tree…
I was asked to examine an old Beech tree, it was close to a house and very large, years ago someone had reduced its canopy and over time the stress had weakened its defences allowing the fungus Ganoderma to take hold. I was not experienced at the time and the only sign of trouble was the fruit of the fungus which riddled the stem, today I know the danger and would condemn it without hesitation. The target is a home and a bedroom, the tree is well beyond recovery and in the path of oncoming coastal winds, at the time though it took everything I had to be sure but I made the call.
It wasn’t until I got a call some time later from the contractor who had taken the tree down that my passion for trees was reignited. He asked “Are you surveying tree professionally? I have been looking for a neutral third party” Surprised I replied “no I left Arboriculture behind”, “shame that, you were dead on with this one, only an inch of sound wood left when we took it down”. Confirmation that I had made the good call set me on the path I have just finished, a 3-year degree in Arboriculture.
I have never regretted that decision, it saved me, gave me a purpose and where once I had shunned education and avoided hard work, I was now so grateful that I took each opportunity to learn with both hands. Time and again I scored high marks and realised this was my calling, mentally stimulated I poured myself into my work and guided ever by my faith, life showed me the way. I met some incredible people and learnt as much from them, and the brilliant tutors whose passion was so infectious. During that first summer break, I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain to get over the loss of my first love and the scarring that had left behind, this trip would change my life.
I knew nobody and nobody knew me, I could just be who I had grown to be without being the person from my past, I realised how much I had changed. I met a new family, one of strangers come together as friends and I loved each one of them and still do to this day. I experienced a sticky situation with blood poisoning towards the end when my journey came to a head but that only worked to heighten the depth of the experience. Coming home I gradually acclimatised but never forgot what it is like being me without the past and those from my passed limiting me to who I was once.
After that I continued to work hard, I started to blog which gave me the foundation for my this blog version 2. I fell deeper in love with trees of course and then disaster struck in the summer of 2016, amid a strange love affair and confusion about who I was becoming and where I was going, certainly had left me and I could not escape a very real fear. This fear was the loss of my father, diagnosed with cancer, he was the reason I did not want to leave the area, the reason I embedded myself on three-year course guaranteed to keep me around.
The loss was not a huge surprise, as a family, we had taken a holiday to Portugal upon his insistence and despite the fact he was gravely ill, my dad was never one to do things any other way but his own. It was amazing, we had not vacationed like this together for years and surrounding my father in his last days was all the comfort and love we as a family could pour onto him, I can not describe how much he was adored by all of us.
Nor can I describe the feeling of watching this main deteriorate in body despite his spirit living strong and on as ever it did. He was a proud man and embodied effortless masculinity, no problem of his own, even terminal cancer would ever appear worse than a problem of his loved ones. He was generous, far from perfect and loved all the more for it, he was David Roger Keith Robinson, an inspiration whose loss would shake the very foundation of who I was.
Together as a family, we grieved and individually we came to terms with our loss, in the aftermath I was amazed and the love and support that flooded in. At his funeral I was blown away by how many lives he had touched, during a minute’s applause I looked around and saw only faces beyond faces, many I know, many I didn’t. Little did I realise this would be the changing point in my life.
I moved in above a new pub me, my brother, sister and mum had purchased together with the idea of a long-term investment. Never really me but an outlet and distraction during a difficult time, the royal hotel and bar became my new home. Alone in the flat, I pushed the outside world away, inwardly I was dying and outwardly I felt worse than ever. In such times one cannot expect the world to come to the rescue or those we love to stick around or understand just because we think they should, I learnt this then.
we all face our own demons and we can only help others for so long before we ourselves are drained and unless they are left to fend for themselves at some point, they will never learn to get up, fend of the crap and move forward. It took me a long time and has been one of the most difficult personal battles but I can honestly say I have changed. I am a man for the first time in my life, in the wake of my father’s loss I can stand up, headstrong and face the world as I am.
I have today finished my degree, 1 hour afterwards I received a phone call from the top company on my list and got the job I wanted. I have joined the gym, I do yoga, I try new things that step me out of my comfort zone and I am determined to move away from the life where I am who I was and not who I have now become. Life has become a game of daily improvement, I have a ten-year plan and every day I work on ways to improve myself and work towards those goals, nurturing a certainty I have never had before.
I know what I want from life, it is an amazingly empowering feeling and it came from a choice, one made when I was so ill with mental suffering that it forced me into motion “never again will be that or go there”. I am the master of my destiny, responsible for my choices and in control of my life, this blog is a part of my destiny and plan but just a small part at that. Today is only the beginning