As I write this I’m sat next to a window on a train whizzing through the British countryside. The sun is shining its warm rays on my face and I’m remembering life doesn’t always go to plan, and when that happens making the best of what we’re given leads to greatness. I’m thinking this as my life isn’t quite going the way I expected right now.
I was lucky to have terrific friends as a kid (I’m grateful I’m still friends with many of them). At that time this meant the trials and disasters of my childhood were regularly softened, and looking back it turns out I needed them more than they needed me.
Life is about choice. Who you choose to devote time with, what you do from minute to minute and how you react to the choices you make. I chose my friends back then and luckily they chose me too.
“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.” – Simon Sinek
Life for me began to change as a teenager, when I started to crave solitude. I began to look at Clint Eastwood characters and Batman as role models. These characters didn’t need others to live a life, they didn’t need anything.
So my life of not needing began. I wanted, I just made sure I didn’t need. Needing meant when something wasn’t there I’d be in trouble or feel pain, I didn’t want that.
This wasn’t restricted to just things, it covered people too. I made sure I didn’t need people, I wanted them instead. If I needed them and they left, pain would set in. I’m still like this in many ways and it’s not something I’ve shared often as when I have, people have taken offence. For me, wanting a person in my life is far more valuable and rewarding than needing them.
Thankfully the people I spend time with prevent me from going it alone to the extreme. There are many people I want in my life and I’m lucky enough for them to want me in theirs. Sometimes I think if it weren’t for these people I’d be in some home made hut on a remote island off the Pacific. Eating ants and berries Bear Grylls style.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants” – Epictetus, Stoic philosopher
I’m a simple person at heart, a person who doesn’t do complicated well, i.e. my preference is for an uncomplicated life. The problem I’m now facing is that life for me is more complicated than ever, so I’ve started to look at why.
Since 2015 I’d been living the life of an essentialist, that is understanding I could have anything, just not everything. A life of less, but better. This ties in with not needing but choosing to want instead (and limiting that want).
I’d learned about essentialism after reading the book by Greg McKeown. From the food I ate, to the people I spent time with and the media I digested, I started to choose more carefully, making sure to eliminate the non essential. As I was doing this I noticed I was creating a calm and happiness in my life I’d never experienced before, it was possibly the most mindful and stress free time I’d ever had.
“Possession isn’t nine-tenths of the law. It’s nine-tenths of the problem” – John Lennon
Then the issue of predictability appeared. My life had become predictable, comfortable and lacking adventure.
So when the opportunity to turn everything upside appeared I took it. I moved jobs towards the end of last year and everything changed, almost overnight.
It’s not just the long commute or the culture shock of going from a large organisation to a much smaller one. It’s that everything was suddenly different and that difference was like night and day. I started to need things, like the trains running on time, tribal information from others at work and feelings of accomplishment. Things I hadn’t felt the need for or relied upon in a long time.
I began to crave the company of others, people I wouldn’t normally spend time with and it felt good, it still does.
So life is difficult and it’s supposed to be, an easy life is not a fulfilling life.
“The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.”– Karen Salmansohn
So when another opportunity recently appeared, one that would change life dramatically again, my wife and I decided to go for it. We’d agreed that life for us must include adventure, as well as the passing on of adventure to our children.
I’d also figured out I was beginning to need and that’s not something I’m totally comfortable with. I’m now actively working on not relying on, or needing things. I am heading back to freedom.
So, we’re off to Denmark in June, relocating our lives with the Danes, working for Unity in the capital Copenhagen. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead, though it does keep me on track for being out of my comfort zone. It also gets me to a place where I can experience more than life has to offer from the usual suburban lifestyle.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Aubrey Marcus