a happy day – my bday today. And I just came back from New Zealand. I went there for the purpose of introducing our Coaching for Change initiative, thinking I might have something to offer and might inspire some people in NZ to dare try out new things and follow new paths.
I couldn’t have travelled any further, New Zealand is literally on the opposite site of Earth compared to where I live. It took me about 19,000 km one way to remember what I already know. And to meet someone I have long forgotten. At the moment, I am back in London and though I love this city and its people, something has changed. It took me so long (distance and time wise) to realise
I don’t belong here. I am unable and unwilling to follow this world’s rules.
So I have a successful and promising international career. A fabulous life, partner, friends, job, lifestyle. I consider myself a happy person generally. I like what I do, like the relationships I have, the habits we all follow more or less and rituals which make us a Western society.
And yet, it is a fake life. At least some of the time.
In New Zealand, somewhere down the South island, as we were hiking one national park, I met two lama-like animals behind a fence. Being an animal lover, I couldn’t resist not to talk to them and wanting to pet at least one. They seemed amused and interested, though a bit shy. And eventually, one of them decided to come closer. What happened next, turned my world upside down.
I stepped back.
I’ve done so because I remembered these animals are very likely to spit in your face, which can be painful, not to mention the disgust and embarrassment. So I removed myself to a distance where the lovely thing could not reach me. So this animal just stood there and observed me, a bit sad that I wouldn’t come closer and changed my mind.
As I turned my back and moved on, my soul was crying: “What has happened to me that made me such a careful, risk-free and distant person? When did I lose my passion and courage to do what I felt like doing, regardless of a possible risk? How did I become someone who “plays it safe”? Is this the new, adult me?” And most of all: “Does it feel right and do I like the person I’ve become?”
I had some serious thinking to do. As we were driving, I kept quiet for hours, trying to figure out what just happened and what to do with it. And all I saw, was a little girl standing next to this animal, petting it, smiling and having a good time. She then turned around and towards me. Her smile disappeared and she looked down, disappointed, guilty and sad.
It was a young, earlier version of myself. And she was disappointed with my current, adult version.
This is not who I want to be. I met someone I long knew and she was still there. Hidden, forgotten, but definitely still there. So I am back to London now. And this time I find it boring. Watching people carrying a Starbucks coffee in one hand, a shopping bag in another, looking at their phones and wearing headphones, being constantly in touch with everyone, updating them about what they are doing and what a fantastic life they are having, not noticing or daring to smile to a stranger passing by. I watched women window shopping, craving for items they cannot afford. Reading magazines to learn to fit in and be attractive, interesting, energised, funny, smart, effective, seductive, etc. I saw women buying the latest Gucci bag in an excellent outfit, with spotless makeup, thin figure, high heels and luxury car, who were nothing but bored, so they kept themselves busy buying another bag or pair of shoes, this time from another luxury designer. I observed men in smart casual shirts, secretly smoking behind a corner, working for a top employer in consultancy industry, making their customers “happy” by selling them things or services they do not believe in. And I heard a conversation on the phone about how much someone is craving for the upcoming holidays, where they would travel far away and go nuts, enjoying cocktails on the beach, getting high at music festivals and basically do everything to escape their everyday. Even if it’s just for two weeks. And I saw a family in a car with kids in the back seats, each absorbed in their iPads, not talking, not looking through the window, not existing. And as they came out, they went into a McDonalds instead to a playground.
Usually, I observe people because I am curious. Or I see something they are wearing/doing and I want to be like them. But now, all I wanted was to take my shoes off and return to the jungle. The city and its speed makes me want things I do not need, buy clothes I do not fit in, put makeup on that turns me to a woman media wants me to be in order to impress people I don’t even like.
So today I’m smiling. I don’t need any of this. Actually, I don’t want any of this. When I see an animal I’d want to talk to it and pet it. If I want to eat a cake, I will do it. Have a second piece if it’s good. I want to sing in a shower, even though I am a terrible singer. I’d want to laugh out loud if someone tells a good joke, even if I might embarrass some of the people around. I want to ride a bike decorated in flowers and I want to have a picnic in the park where it says “don’t walk on a meadow”. I won’t buy beauty products, because I don’t care if I wake up looking horrible. I won’t wear high heels because it will make my legs look thinner. If I will wear it it will be because I would feel like wearing it. However it’s much more likely I will wear Doc Martens boots instead. I don’t want to go to parties in order to lose myself and relax from busy lifestyle. I want to wake up every day and know that I am alive and I will do things I want to do for the purpose of me wanting it, not anyone else.
Dearest New Zealand, thank you so much for this precious gift. I came to see you because I wanted to give you something, Instead, I left with enormous strength, power and will to dream, love and care in a totally different way. You reminded me what a real world looks like and which things are truly important. I will be seeing you again. I promise.
What you really need to make you feel alive can be much simpler than you imagine … and closer.