I had dinner with my brother and sister in law the other evening. Glass of wine in hand I prepared myself for the various questions that were going to be thrown at me. The first comment was from my sister in law. She made a reference to a comment I made nearly two years ago which consisted of my desire to settle, get married and work my way into a miserable existence….I mean work my way to the top, yes that’s what I meant.
Oh how things have changed. I really did mean that at the time. After moving to various accommodations ranging from cockroach infested to jail cell interior and practically living out of a suitcase I really was ready for some sense of stability. “My feet are thoroughly scratched” I exclaimed (more to myself than anything). “That’s it for me, no more travelling around unless its for a nice holiday”. That’s it I thought to myself join the sheep. There must be something in it if everyone else is doing it. It is only now that I think back to my office corner and realise that actually the most terrifying concept for me was thinking that ‘this is it’. I would sit there and try to think ahead into the future and what I would be doing and the only thing I saw was myself, doing the same thing day in day out. Growing older by the day but learning little and feeling less. I would also mentally beat myself down to accept that this was it with thoughts such as you have messed up anough, that is it, you are not going anywhere…Just grown up! I smiled at my sister in law with a sense of apology for being such a little liar. “Yes I did say that but after Italy I gained some sort of perspective”. “I don’t know how you do it” they both looked at each other. “We couldn’t do it, all that travel and going to a new place again, living out of a suitcase. Seems so exhausting and we are too old for that now”. Damn straight it is exhausting. I am exhausted just thinking about moving from this chair. But that is the problem. When you are not fulfilled or happy everything seems so much harder. So much more difficult and dreams are just unreachable.
Swirling the red Shiraz around in my glass I explain to them my reasons for yet again jumping into the unknown. I hope it is not a case of jumping from the pan into the fire. Think I have burnt myself enough already. If I think too much about my recent actions I panic with the realisation that I have walked out of a decent job in a multinational software corporation. “You could have stayed there and used your holidays to explore and travel” my brother said. “So I spend my time waiting for two weeks or so out of the year where I can feel fulfilled and happy?!” I reply. He laughs at this and agrees with me.
Its strange but when one person decides to make a break for it you find that you tend to ruffle a few feathers without necessarily meaning to. Suddenly people who you thought were happy with their situation confide in you that not all is what it seems. Certain friends suddenly reveal that they hate their jobs and that they want to travel. Your old colleagues start dropping like flies and you hear through the grape vine that Colleague 1 is secretly going for interviews and Colleague 2 wants to take a year out to travel. I know what its like. I have sat at my desk and its someone’s last day in the office and all you can think about is that ‘THEY ARE BREAKING FREE’. You hate it, and you wish to some degree that it is you walking out that door to freedom. That it is you packing your desk up with the promise of a new job or a new business idea that will set you up for life. When they have left the premise you all huddle together and throw in a few comforting words such as “he would have been promoted and he just threw it away” or “he will never get such a great package as here” or the one I like the best “he was going to be fired soon anyway, his work was shit”. You all nod in agreement like those nodding bobbing dogs you get for cars before the awkward silence seeps into the conversation like a bad fart and people disperse back into their cubicles. Some will be left with a sense of longing and others will be a left with a sense of purpose. The knowing that another one bites the dust leaves more money and promotion opportunities.
My brother drove me home and confides in me that if he could he would drive lorries around Europe and see the world but with a wife and children that is not possible. I ask him if he could have his time again what career would he have gone for. He tells me he would loved to have been a social worker. I advice that he is only 42 and he can still do it. There are people of all ages who decide to change careers and do what they have always wanted to do. He nods and agrees and tells me he will look into it when he gets back home. I know that he wont look into it and if he does that would surprise and delight me to the core. I also know that when he is 60 he will not look back and think “Yes, I am glad that I didn’t look into becoming a social worker. 42 was far too old”.
I cannot say whether in the years to come that I will regret my actions but if I don’t try I will never know. In the words of Mark Twain;
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.