When I was a kid I dreamed of travelling the world and being my own kind of Indiana Jones. I wanted to experience the world and get out of farming land as my only viewpoint.
I was lucky enough to spend much of my twenties hopping around various countries. Sadly not with a whip and quick one liners to disarm any enemies I might have met along the way. But I did wear khakis and a cool hat at times.
What became apparent after anchoring my life and starting a career in the video game industry, was that I could travel and work at the same time.
So as my role expanded and promotions happened, I visited some amazing places, while at the same time staying at terrific hotels. What I didn’t realise was how accustomed I’d get to accommodation like the Four Seasons and Hyatt Regency. I’d become spoilt and was in a bubble. This was especially noticeable when it came to travelling with Microsoft, where being in downtown Seattle or Redmond town center (think the Truman show with music on the streets and free umbrellas for when it rains), was so comfortable, it was easy to forget how privileged I was (and I did).
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” – Brene Brown
So I initiated life change when an opportunity appeared.
On business trips I no longer get to watch Netflix from a Jacuzzi bath that could fit 4 people (if you’re ever in downtown Seattle and can stay at the Four Seasons I would recommend the experience). It wasn’t just the travel either, I no longer have a home office enabling a private space to work and write. I no longer have a car, one that tells me where to go and has more lights and switches on its dashboard than the original space shuttle. What I do have are the beginnings of a deeper living experience. I’m fitter than I was, my mind is clearer, I’m a calmer person and I really appreciate the smallest of things.
I didn’t consciously choose to change everything, I’d love a home office again and miss it dearly, yet there are pro’s to not having such luxury (like being better able to separate work and home).
It was a joint decision my wife and I made, to change our lives with the opportunity that faced us. We wanted something different, something to take us away from the heavy consumerism and conventional lifestyle. When that opportunity arose we took it.
There are still days where we wonder what we’ve done and what we’ve taken away from our children. These doubts come and go, mainly when talking with friends and seeing what they’re doing back in the UK. But right now we’re on a path, one that’s made us more grateful for what we had, what we have now and whatever we’ll have in the future.
It takes practice and I’ve a long way to go, yet I don’t need certain things anymore and that’s made me a happier person. Change and having less can be good for us all.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy