If you achieved happiness then you had reached
that goal that oh so few do, you were one of the elite. Happiness
was placed upon a pedestal in my mind, meaning that it was as
obtainable as a career in Hollywood.
was it so out of reach? Maybe because I felt that it
would only ever come about if I owned certain
belongings - perhaps at one point I would have said,
Happiness will come the day I have enough money for
everything I could possible want. A nice little helicopter,
a house with a view of dramatic mountains and a beautifully
clean sea - all these things will be necessary. Also,
a private beach for a front garden, a 30-inch television
with Surround Sound, a brand new porsche and 4x4 off-roader,
several exotic holidays a year, lots of chocolate cookies
in the cupboard, and some great little electronic gadgets
around the house, such as Aibo, that robotic dog made
with the exception of the chocolate-chip
cookies I have found perfect happiness with the aid
of none of these things.
currently have absolutely no money and the closest I've
got to owning an Aibo was when I once saw one in a shop
window. Sure, I regularly have encounters with helicopters
but that's mostly when I'm half asleep and wishing they
weren't hovering outside my window at 7am. Switzerland
is a little lacking in ocean shores due to it's land-locked
nature, although there is a gravel terrace outside my
hotel which can resemble a very stony beach if you down
a crate of the local beer beforehand.
appreciate that my environment here does much for my mood
- I can't help but smile when I wake up to see the sun on
the snow-capped mountains. Only yesterday I was out on my
mountain bike (the first time I've ever used one to climb
a mountain!) exploring the new landscape that has emerged
from under the metres of snow. New life is visible everywhere.
Frogspawn fills the ponds, thousands of crocuses paint the
slopes in shades of cream and purple and the local marmots
do their best to frighten you by screeching from their burrows
like some unearthly creatures.
the single most important factor that is contributing to my
happiness has to be my friends. The support and love given
to me by them over the past year has been overwhelming. Only
one of them remains here at Scheidegg, yet this is no issue.
These people live not only in the UK, but also in places as
far away as Australia, Japan, North America, Mexico, Hawaii,
and Singapore. The distance between us makes no difference
- we just have to shout louder.
final contribution to the mix that makes me smile is a purely
personal one. Through my limited travels I have discovered
within myself the strength and belief that to a great extent
I can do what I wish and go wherever I desire. Of course there
are limitations to this, I mean I'll have to practise holding
my breath for a fair bit longer before my next attempt to
dive to the bottom of the Atlantic. I have finally realised
that money is not a necessity in order to be happy - sure,
it can help, but the most challenging and rewarding times
I have experienced have been when I've been totally broke
- never again will I give up quality of life in the pursuit
of money as I did back in the UK.
would use that corny line and say that through travel, and
living in such an isolated spot in the Alps I have "found
myself". However, I remember thinking the very same thing
four years ago having completed my first season here. I now
appreciate that it is a continuous process, a never-ending
journey in a way - but I do feel that I have reached a significant
point. I can confidently say that I am very, very happy with
my life. I no longer feel the ties of society that the vast
majority of us (I think!) are bound by, whether we know it
I have found my freedom, and I thank everyone who has played
a part in enabling me to do so.
I must get off this mountain and down to a shop - my
supply of Organic Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
is getting dangerously low!- (some things in life will
this piece was written in the summer of 2001, it remains
current and valid to this day.
my thoughts on "The
Rat Race", click here