In 2018, I was living in Australia. I had left a good job in Amsterdam – my favorite place in the world – in the pursuit of new adventures once again, but at 37 years old. And boy was it an adventure… Having to move five times -in a year and a half- and living with just enough money in one of the most expensive cities in the world: Sydney. Let us focus on the B side now, “B” for Bondi (the neighborhood where I used to live): I was surrounded by good friends and wonderful landscapes, with a radiant sun that gilded my skin to a new “Baywatch” level. I traveled to many great places, I took surfing lessons for the first time in my life… I saw kangaroos, koalas and giant spiders (also for the first time. Although spiders have been part of my nightmares since I was little).
What was I missing? Why was I carrying around a strange feeling of unhappiness? Of existential emptiness?
Two days away from my 38th birthday, I found myself “on pause” at my flex-desk at the Contact Center where I was working part-time – thanks to my friend Febs. I had an Excel file open and a half-eaten cookie. The beautiful views of North Sydney began to mix with the faces of people I barely knew (except from lovely Jen’s); with diverse English accents, many phones, some plants…
146 Arthur St.’s days were numbered for me, I knew it. For a moment I tried to recognize myself in that space. What am I doing here? I asked myself, for the thousandth time since I had arrived in Australia. Why didn’t I stay where I was? When will I start doing my own thing? What is “my thing”?
I was beginning the process of awakening – or at least becoming aware of it. And going through a middle-age crisis, let us be honest here.
I had already been working on the Japanese concept of Ikigai -which literally translates as “the reason for being”-, but it had not quite clicked. I missed my life in Europe although I knew that the Australian project was coming to an end. But what then? That day I opened another IG account as a blog to share my reflections. I went back to The Netherlands for two months (in which I was reborn) and raised money to fulfill the dream of being a volunteer teacher in India, with another friend. When I came back, something was telling me to stay; to not go to Barcelona. That it was not my place, that I would not have a good time. The rest was, like any self-fulfilling prophecy, having a hard time and “The Pandemic”.
Today I see life through a four-decade lense. I have changed the beautiful Amsterdam canals – I always add “for now” – and the maddening porteño(*) glamor, for tiny alleys and flamenco music.
I have changed a fixed salary for the uncertainty and adrenaline of entrepeneurship. But I am my own boss. Checkmate.
And when people ask me over and over again: “What is your plan?”, I answer: “As the great Gustavo Cerati used to sing: ‘It is always Today’”.
I thank my soul for dragging me out of my comfort zone.
It is never about the place, the job or others. It is about you and your ability to reveal the light that you are, at all times and in spite of everything.
We are here to light our own path and that of others. And to be happy.
The rest is fake news.
(*) demonym; from Buenos Aires