How losing a brother to cancer inspired an album: My Story. Pt 5 ~ O Wide World.

Soon after Dan’s death, my wife and I sold our house and moved into my parents, while we renovated our next one. It was a massive time of transition and change. I’d taken the remainder of the year off work to process and spent a lot of my time walking.

I like walking for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s good exercise for someone who abhorred P.E at high-school. Secondly, it’s another form of adventure — albeit not a particularly adventurous one. I like to explore, not like an adrenaline junky or potholer. More like one of those people who drew the first maps, methodically seeking out new places in the hope that today you might stumble upon something spectacular. Adventure doesn’t have to be dramatic, in fact, adventure is sometimes just stepping out of the door.

Over the past five years, I’ve had this battle with adventure. There’s a side to me that, due to anxiety and a lack of self-confidence in the wake of the grief, meant that I hid. I pulled the covers over my head and buried myself in the bed sheets of mundanity. I caved in to the voice in the back of my head that said ‘you can’t do it, give up now’. And the thing is, I was oddly content with the ‘in-door’ life I’d created for myself. Shut away, safe from all my fears.

But something was missing.

One time, just after our band mate Dicky had bought his first car, we took a drive to the coast. The car was a 1999 Ford Fiesta in what I would describe as dirty gold and the soundsystem had been upgraded with a CD player, which was a big deal at the time.

Dicky picked us up and I brought along a very cheap nylon strung acoustic that we’d inherited from my Dad’s Auntie and Uncle. I remember mum hesitantly waving us off, in the way only mother’s can do.

On the drive, going about 50mph, we spotted a road sign for a bridge. Dicky, had assumed it was a bridge we might go under. That was not the case. We shot over this bridge at speed and for a split second the wheels of the car left the ground. We were flying, momentarily. It was awesome.

We landed and looked at each other in an array of disbelief and laughter. What had just happened? That moment is one we talked about so often, not because it was anything particularly amazing, but because it was a shared experience. That short moment of hang-time became a small story of adventure.

In the weariness of a post sibling world, I had convinced myself that I could live without adventure. A quiet, easy, boring, selfish life. I forgot the call to adventure that I had sensed so many years before. I lost my spark.

Some people are content with the life in front of them. It’s something I envy, but it’s not for me. I need to chase a dream, seek out a story and devise a mission each day of my life. I am not content with sitting still and watching the world go by. I’m afraid of inaction as much as I’m scared of the very thing I’m pursuing. It’s this tension that I can only equate to this human condition we’re all in. We want to live and live big, but so often, we sacrifice living in fear of death.

After quite a few years of wondering and worrying, I started to reemerge. And in the middle of all that confusion, pain and doubt, I found adventure again. It was nothing groundbreaking, but it was progress and progress enough. I started to learn new things, write, sing, film and record. I experimented in new thoughts and let my mind process all of the grief in positive ways. I delved into the murky bucket of life and pulled out diamonds.

And this is where it led me to.

I was sat in a team meeting the other day and my boss asked me about how my album project was coming along and I said something profoundly dumb:

‘I feel like my whole life has led me to this point, all the experiences and skills I’ve picked up along the way. But actually the same could be true of anything because that’s how lives work, they are linear’.

I don’t know if I would be here without those experiences or not, I haven’t lived another life. I can’t rewrite my history or pretend like the good doesn’t come without the bad. All I can do is be the adventure I am in. That’s the only story I can tell.

I’m making this album because I need to, not because I really had a choice about it. It’s a project that oozes out of me like syrup from a maple tree. It’s the adventure I have lived and am living now, even if I didn’t ask for it.

So, o wide world, where did you come from? Where do you run? What do you ask of me? These are questions I battle with everyday. But the battle is the journey, the adventure. I am a man of faith, it’s something that drives me to see the world for what it is and hope for the future. In today’s society, that is perhaps a menial idea, wishful thinking. But honestly, I don’t care and neither should you. If faith gives me perspective to keep on moving, then I think I’ll take it. If faith is part of my story, then I’ll live it. I don’t need an excuse to be the authentic outworking of my experiences.

Whatever life has thrown at you, don’t let it devoid you of the adventure. Have the courage to keep living even when it seems like there’s nothing left to live for and slowly and surely you will find your spark again. You are your story, so live it.

I’m currently crowdfunding to make my debut album ‘O Wide World’ ~ my story of finding hope after losing my brother to cancer. This album is full of big indie folk rock songs that will speak to your soul.

Follow this link to help make it happen!

Keep on moving.
~ Ben

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Ben Lawrence

Ben Lawrence

I’m Ben, a songwriter and filmmaker from Norwich, UK. I’m currently on a journey to record an album of songs written after losing my brother to cancer.