In 2014, I walked away from a successful career in investment banking. At that time, I was not happy with the life I was living. My smile had gone. My passion for life was dead. I realized that I was spending very little of my days doing the things I loved to do. I had got sucked into a Westerner ideal that I needed a well-paid, professional career to be a success and that I needed a lot of money to be happy. This belief had failed me.
The annual exchange of ‘Happy New Year’ emails between my friends has finally ceased. Most were full of well wishes for the year ahead and hopefulness that 2016 will be the best ever. When I asked one UK friend how was it to be back at work after the obligatory, half-term, two week Christmas break, his reply was breathtakingly honest – “It’s a bit depressing, given the weather, etc. All a bit, here we go again…..”.
Maybe you’ve wondered why I choose to post a quote on the first day of the traditional working week. It’s because by the end of my corporate career, I absolutely hated Monday mornings. I started to dread them as early as Saturday night. Thoughts of ‘Ugh, only one more day of freedom before I’m back to the daily grind.’
I come from a family that is highly organised, maybe verging on OCD, one that likes detailed plans, spreadsheets, filing systems, order. (Only last night, my brother was sharing with me his online virtual spreadsheet that calculates the energy he generates from his home’s solar panels against the energy expended each day, complete with details of kilowatts spent and the cost. He was in data heaven). I’m anal in my own way. I plan my day, every day, even on the weekend, to the hour. Wake at 6.00am. By 7.00am start exercising. 8.00am shower. 8.30 to 10.30 Work. 10.30 to 12.30 run errands. Post office first, coffee, shopping. And so forth. Yes, I even determine the order in which the errands should be completed based on ridiculous factors. I run my life like a military boot camp.
Mesa, AZ – I have no home. The majority of my belongings are stuffed into a 5ft x 7ft x 8ft wooden crate, which I’m told is sitting in a large storage facility somewhere in Croydon, England. (Croydon is a run down suburb of London. Zone 5, I think.) My stuff has been there since 3 June 2014. I only have a vague recollection of what is in there. Clothes. Kitchen gadgets. Pictures I’ve collected on my travels. And my extensive collection of memory boxes. (That’s a story for another day!).
Phoenix, AZ, USA – When I set off as a traveller, I expected that along the way I’d see some spectacular sights, meet some amazing people, and do a few crazy, adrenalin induced activities. When I set out, I don’t think that I expected to come back changed, impacted by what I discovered, but I did. The change is almost imperceptible.Yet, I’ve noticed them as I’ve reintegrated back into ‘life’. Slight alterations on my values, on my outlook on life, on what’s truly important, on what things really are problems. Travelling has made we question my Western way of life. Particularly in the area of stuff and how much we, in our Western and European societies have. How much do we really need anyway?