Tim Anderson from Norwich was once a ‘successful’ Sports Person, Pharmacist with a life that looked perfect…on the outside. It took falling apart to find his true calling. Here he bravely tells us his journey so far:
The Australian bush, where I was born, is a most unlikely place to become interested in Japanese Martial Arts. My first interest in Japanese culture was when I was 11 or so. I also became interested in Sports Psychology at about 18 or 19 years of age. There was no history or culture of it nearby. The only influence from that level was that we were lefties. Not Corbynistas, but lefties nevertheless.
Looking back, as I got older, got a degree in Pharmacy, Captained Tasmania at Rugby, travelled through Europe and the Middle East, worked, changed jobs, studied kendo, represented the UK at kendo, worked in Mental Health in Pharmacy, did an IT project, won a National award, got married, bought two dogs, had three kids, a common thread has underpinned it all.
That it all came back to Zen, self improvement and workplace dynamics. I had a fascination.
Not just any old Zen, Rinzai Zen. Koan study. Not just sitting, the method of study of the Soto Zen tradition. For some reason that did not appeal. It was really difficult and not a little boring. Little did I know.
But there was a constant call from spiritual matters. A pull if you like. I was seeking but didn’t realise.
Also, I didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I didn’t understand how the world worked. Still don’t to be honest. But I couldn’t work out what was wrong with me, but Zen and self-help offered some solace and guidance. The leftie stuff was also becoming more prominent. People mattered. Dignity at work. Treated as people, not numbers. The misuse of power was something that I truly reacted to. The underdog.
And when I drank, it all went out the window. And dodgy birds- or not so dodgy, some were nice, became the point of interest. Disaster awaited.
I tried stuff for a bit, usually meditation or somesuch. I usually gave up or stopped because I felt self-conscious or thought people would think I was weird. There is an issue in our family regarding religion. Was I weird? Using the opinion of others as a barometer of whether I was doing ok or not was all i knew how to check.
Not a good idea.
Last year, the disaster struck. I was asked for a divorce. It hit me like a brick. A really big brick. But, despite the devastating effect of all that, I decided to follow my inner drive, follow the spiritual call I’d been putting off. What I’d been denying.
So I started meditating and doing some buddhist practice. Mainly to help with the storm.On top of that, I realised I had ADHD. And ADHD devastates lives. It is not funny. Not even a bit.
The diagnosis of ADHD wasn’t a shock. I’d studied it. Presented educational stuff on it. But now I knew what was wrong. And why my life was a mess. And why my wife wanted to leave me. And why I couldn’t stop messing up. And why I couldn’t figure it out over all these years. I didn’t know what I was up against before. I thought it was bipolar- I get SAD- or anxiety. I’d spent my life wondering why. And failing. And I was stuck with it. There is no ‘fix’.
So, I have a genetic difference to the rest of the non-ADHD population. My executive function is compromised. All this info about why i was like i was, caused a massive depression. Plus the divorce and losing daily contact with the kids. That was like a death, plus other stresses and the tablets for ADHD which give you the drive to achieve your goals. The goal this time however was being to kill yourself, really did a number on me. I was massively vulnerable. And ill.
Strange thing was, I knew that the drugs did that stuff. Make you think thoughts you normally wouldn’t. And all that stuff. Let me tell you. It doesn’t work being your own Dr!
Two days after Xmas, 2017, I had a serious go at killing myself. I’d lost all hope. I was convinced everyone on the planet was better off without me. I really was as worthless as I was constantly being told. I got found before I died. Luckily. It was pretty close.
Was it the spiritual merits I’d been building up that got me saved? Was it luck?
Who knows. But I do know that I was in an absolute spiritual crisis.
Since then I’ve meditated every day. Zazen and other variants. I’ve gotten better. I discovered a Rinzai Zen school in London. Zen has helped me heal. No doubt. Not a lot of people know that. About Zen.
And since, I’ve vowed to follow my inner call. My intuition.
The first step is to bring my history together, and start to move forward with that. To live from the gut. The Hara.
Not straightforward. When you ask ‘ What is the sound of one-hand clapping?, it’s the Hara that does the work.
The first step on my new path is my business, Respectful Development. It’s about personal, team and organisational, even planetary, healthy growth. People Matter.
Will it succeed? Who knows. Is it the right thing? For now, definitely. Ultimately I’m not sure yet.
But it brings my skills and better motivations to the world.
And that’s a good thing. That’s what we are all here for.
Respectful Development is all about that. People Matter. Inside every person is the ability to change the world.
To find out more about Tim’s work, go to: www.respectfuldevelopment.co.uk