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Around The Sun: The Perfect Life

Steve Harrison recalls a family tragedy and muses on the way things have worked out in his life.

My sister Elaine who is now 50 years old married John who she met at South Parade secondary school when she was 15 and he was 16. My father would not let them marry at 18, the minimum legal age. They had to wait until 20.

It was a good marriage. They had two kids, a mortgage, a dog and went on holiday for two weeks every year to Spain. Were they happy? I guess so. They had a regular house, regular jobs, regular bills, which I suppose added up to regular happiness.

John went to work every day, walked to the local pub every night where he drank two pints of beer without talking to anyone before returning home. He never stopped out all night, chased other women, gambled or did anything illegal - at least as far as we knew. He seemed to live the life of the perfect husband.

One day he didnít come home. My sister was frantic with worry. She even rang me in Australia to express her concern. Some kids found him the next morning, a hundred yards from his house. He had drowned in two inches of water in the local beck.

How can anyone drown in two inches of water?

My sister never remarried. I guess she still grieves. She hardly ever goes out. Her two sons are almost grown up, and she dotes on them. Sheís a lovely lass.

So I wonder. I have lived a close-to-the-edge life. I have had a number of wives and girlfriends. Iíve travelled the world. Done more than my fair share of drugs. Drunk myself blind more times than I can possibly remember. Hung out with Hells Angels. Touched the lives of the mafia. Iíve jumped out of aeroplanes, swum with sharks (not by choice) and got stuck underwater while diving at 100 feet.

Iíve played with astrology, astronomy, religion and the occult, and unfaithfully played the field. There have been times when I have thought of killing myself, and times when I thought I would die of ecstasy.

I have been down to my last penny, borrowing and begging scraps of food, but Iíve also been a millionaire. I have experienced the extreme of every emotion known to man. Some people say Iíve lived a charmed life.

Iím now 54 and married to one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She has just given birth to the most perfect baby girl in the world. I am a doting father.

Can it be true that only the good die young? Am I a freak? A good guy, or a bad guy? The luckiest man in the world, or the unluckiest?

One thing is for sure. There is no real justice in this world and success does not depend solely on talent or performance.

Despite all my exploits and adventures I will most probably live to a ripe old age, to then die peacefully in my sleep, with my family and friends all around. Having lived through many trials I have learned the most important thing. The true value of a single soul.

Right now life is perfect.

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