The economy and ecology of living in a lorry, Part 3

I’ve spoken about some of the practical and physiological aspects of lorry living in the first two parts of this occasional sub-series.  Today I’m moving up the triangle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (check it out at ) towards the notions of self-fufillment and personal growth.

Maya Angelou writes

'My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style'

I agree with that but if someone asks me how I am just now I tend to say ‘Surviving’, and I am aware as I say it that it’s less than I would like to say.  Somehow there’s a back against the wall, stiff upper lip feel to the word, but that is how I feel, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.  I mentioned the desperate faces in my last blog about Oswestry on Thursday.  I know I’m not the only person who is finding that life is really hard, and that survival is a battle.  They are faced daily with the bottom level of the triangle, the very basic needs – food, water, shelter and warmth.

I’m luckier than many because I have a life that involves creative work, and a way to make it pay enough to make a living, even if that basic living is often exactly that.  Basic.   But if, like me, you can find something that not only gives you a personal sense of achievement but that also earns you recognition and respect from others then you are well on the way to discovering a different meaning and purpose to life that lifts you above the basic.  My life as a performer does exactly that for me.  The persona of Mr Alexander is my on-going link to achieving my full potential.

If you watch my improvisation between shows, you will see that I tend to repeat and repeat the same routine.  It is more than just practice, it is being at one with what I do, a series of moments of achievement that I hope the audience can equate to personally and see as a metaphor of all types of life skills achievement. 

And out of these moments from time to time emerge observations and statements that I have used in shows and lessons and passed on to others on the path;

Failure is on the road to success

Don’t say ‘I can’t do it’, say ‘I can’t do it yet’

Practice makes progress

All three statements are linked.  Many people, instead of being liberated by their learning experiences have been stifled and mortified by them.  Teachers and schools leave many with a legacy which makes them terrified of failure; failure for them is something personally and morally reprehensible, and must never be admitted or sanctioned.  It has been built into the fabric of Western education and will probably always be there.  A ‘failing’ school is almost the worst statement Ofsted can make after an inspection; a failed exam will leave most students never wanting anything to do with that subject ever again.

In our education system failure is the worst judgment on a learner, it must be avoided at all costs and certainly never promoted as a learning tool!

But I believe that failure is a fundamental part of the positive learning process.  Understanding our attitude to failure, and where it comes from and moving through the barrier it has thrown down is a wonderfully liberating and positive experience and will help us grow and learn more in the future, and, importantly, learn more efficiently and effectively.

How can we understand success if we have never failed?  And of course the fear of failure is the thing that stops us even trying.  How many times have I heard someone I am teaching how to juggle throw the beanbags down and say ‘I can’t do it.’  And then with a few more moments of practice they discover that actually they can do it and go on and through that psychological learning barrier and really start achieving.

Of course it’s not always as easy as that and some people’s learning barriers can take a lifetime to dismantle.  But once the barriers start to come down there really is NOTHING that we cannot achieve.

So I’m trying to practice what I preach.  Having failed to earn enough money in 2013 to allow me to thrive through the winter, I’m learning that surviving is on the road to thriving and, like Maya, my mission in life is to thrive in 2014 and beyond!

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander