Sometimes I find it difficult to motivate myself to do anything.
It’s not depression or anything like that.
It’s just hard to inspire yourself when you’ve already achieved everything you ever wanted to…
Well maybe not everything, I still have ambitions, but anything that happens from now on will always pale into insignificance now that I’ve experienced the pinnacle of my childhood dreams.
It happened in the glorious summer of 1997, when I was still a fresh-faced eighteen-year-old. I was volunteering at a summer play-scheme run by Banardos, because back then I was young and idealistic and wanted to give back to society.
Anyway, I was based in a school in one of the less affluent areas of Cardiff, working with some pretty deprived preschool kids. It was a genuinely worthy pursuit.
But rewarding though the time I spent with the kids was, and however treasured those memories are; they are really just the backdrop for this particular tale of fulfillment.
My moment of triumph was a hot August day, and we’d decided to take the kids out for the afternoon. It was just to a local park, but they were pretty enthusiastic. Everyone had a ‘buddy’ and we walked in small groups from the school, through the neighbourhood, to the park.
On the way we passed a fire station and the firemen were all out, cleaning the engines and checking equipment. The kids were thrilled so we stopped and had a chat. Then one of the firemen said the kids could have a ride in the fire engine. You only had to look at the faces of the little cherubs light up to know that this was a bit of a ‘no-brainer’.
So, in small groups the children got into the fire engine. The engine would complete a lap of the block and then one group over-excited infants was replaced by another group of over-excited infants.
Soon enough, every child had had their turn and we ready to continue our journey to the park. We were about to bid farewell to the kindly firemen, when one of them caught my eye.
“Would you like a go mate?”
I smiled and politely declined. My role was clearly supervisory. But I wasn’t fooling anyone and our group leader gave me an encouraging smile.
“It’s alright James, we’ve got time. You can if you want.”
Well you didn’t have to tell me twice.
I got to ride in a fire engine. With the sirens on.
But now I must suffer everyday with the knowledge that life just doesn’t get any better than that…