One of the things I have learned in life is that its key lies not in what happens to you but in what you do with it. The chaos that was engulfing me seemed terminal—at the time. Everything I worked for, or held dear, was falling apart. The question I asked myself was, “What next?” It was not a question I was able to answer other than on a day by day basis. I had no idea I would end up where I am now, and I had no way of knowing where I would end up. Life reverted to a daily experience of staying alive and dealing with what I faced.
I was in my late fifties and the question of home became an urgent one. I was leaving my home to live on my own. I had decided to start again without any personal baggage around me. This seems a simple decision to make. Whether it was the right one is an entirely different question, the difficulty was deciding how to do it. I was a mature man who was used to being independent and solving problems for people. But I had never lived on my own. I had stayed in hotels for short periods but I had never had a flat or house to myself. The very thought of it scared me. How on earth would it work?
In mid-December I was at ‘Date With Destiny’, a Mastery University event with Tony Robbins. One of the crucial days was ‘Relationship Day’ where Tony helped people deal with their relationship issues and enabled them to find ways to re-build them. Mine had fallen apart and, as far as I was concerned, was not capable of revival, at least that was not what I wanted.
Tony was enrolling people with relationship difficulties in the idea of going home and spending a month actively working to solve the problems they had with their significant other. The idea filled me with dread as I wondered how it would work. Then he said, “Although I want you to go home and work to revive your broken relationship, sometimes this is just not possible. Sometimes after, say, thirty years the time comes when you have to draw the line and move on.” It was as if he was speaking to me, he was certainly speaking directly to my situation. In that moment I made the decision to leave. It had never been an option before, I had just not thought of it.
I flew back home from Arizona and immediately plucked up the courage to break the news. Of course it did not go down well and created a lot of discussion. I was determined, however, and did not waver from my decision. I did not dare to think of what was going to happen or how it was going to work out. I just moved forward one step at a time.
Money was a problem but I decided that I had to rent a flat while continuing to pay the mortgage on our family home. I decided to make no rushed decisions on the future direction our marriage might take and suggested we give it six months apart before we addressed to question of the future. So it was just about where to live. This was important for me, it reduced the issues to be dealt with to just the one of where and how to live.
I found a small flat mid-way between home and the office. This enabled me to go to work and go home, if necessary, not that it was ever really necessary. I did what I do, I just got on with it without addressing all the consequences. There were practical issues to be dealt with and that I was good at.
I found a flat and moved in in January. I had a bedroom, a sitting room, a small kitchen and a bathroom. It was in decent condition and I reckoned I could be comfortable there. Then I set up what I had never had before: my own place organised just how I wanted it. I was scared of being lonely and of failing to deal with the day to day issues I had always left to others. What happened was a revelation to me and was the key to how the rest of my life developed.
I loved living on my own and I realised that all my life I had made compromises in living with others, compromises that were unconscious but subtly aggressive. Looking now at how I live I realise that I have a need for neatness and organisation in the practical things. I would not go as far as describing it as a mild for of OCD, but sometimes it seems like that. I had always seen myself as chaotic and untidy, but living on my own I came to realise that that was a reaction to not getting my own way. My need for control was deeper than I had ever realised. Living on my own enabled my to do things my way.
I was starting life all over again and I realised that I completely loved it. There was no way I was going to go back. Later I came to a sense of compromise again when I got married again, but it came with an understanding of what was going on. This was never how it was before.
When I went to live on my own I was still trying to keep my design firm alive. That soon failed and I was faced with a new decision as to how to get over this disaster and continue to earn a living. Continuing with starting another firm was not an option. I did not want to go through all the agony again. I certainly did not want to go and work for someone else. My new-found freedom in living on my own was quickly augmented with the idea of working on my own. This was an even bigger revelation as I realised I could control virtually everything about my life.
I found a small office, near my flat, that was part of a development of offices. They provided virtual office facilities to back up my working on my own. Later on when I gave up my physical office to travel the world, I continued to have a virtual office there. They dealt with my phone and mail and acted, as far as clients were concerned, as if I was based there. I would take calls on my mobile as if I was there, but I could be anywhere without clients knowing it.
I retained a number of projects and clients from the failed firm and loved getting back into being a designer again. I organised the office the way I wanted it and did things how I wanted to. It worked a great deal better than I had anticipated. I discovered a stability I had not known before—I was in charge without controlling anyone. I now had the space to discover who I was and who I wanted to be. This was such an exciting time.
Over the next few years everything changed as I discovered myself, as I spread my wings, as I took life to new places that I had not imagined before. Work faded as a separate activity and became integral part of my life. As I discovered who Graham Phoenix was, I realise that he was not me. Recently I changed my name to Sat Purusha as part of a new shift in consciousness. I will come to this but not before I embark on the journey, the physical journey that backed up my new realisations.
You can make a choice to compromise in your life, to live alongside other people and accommodate them and their wants, but it always needs to be a choice. Up to this point in my life I had lived out of fear, I had lived despite the people I lived with. I now made a choice to live my way without expecting others to live my way. I loved it and came to wonder why it had taken me so long to get here.
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—Photo Credit: Flickr/Billie Grace Ward