“Now this is a story all about how my life got flip turned upside down…” These are the famous lyrics from Will Smith’s smash TV show many years ago, but they also, kind of sum up how I’m feeling lately. (By the way, if you don’t know this rap, get off this blog post immediately and go watch as many episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as you can, because seriously, you’re missing out!)
For all my family and friends back home, who know me well, this may sound like I’m going all hippy, or caught religion, or becoming spiritual, but really, all that’s happened is I’ve had my eyes and mind completely opened, and it’s something I think everyone should experience.
The word ‘awakened’ is used in the media quite frequently at the moment, and although probably not in quite the same sense, that is exactly how I feel. I feel awakened to the real world, and now my outlook, perspective, views, wants, and understanding is totally different to how it was a short while ago, and all, I believe, for the better.
Let’s start with how. I moved last year from the UK to the Portuguese Algarve and am back here in 2015 for my second season. I’ve had a fantastic experience, learnt so much and had great fun, but the best, most important, and I think beneficial thing I will take out of it all, is who I’ve met. I’ve met hundreds of people, staff, customers, holiday makers, locals.. the list goes on. But there are 2 people I met, who I feel have literally changed my life. I won’t name them, but they both know who they are. To give you a little information, they are both male, both are fathers, one is from Nepal, one is from India, and they are both living in Portugal, away from their families. One I worked with last year, and the other I’ve only know since this year in March.
These two guys have become extremely important in my life. Of course, all my friends and family are important to me; they’re there to pick me up when I’m down, keep me laughing and enjoy the good times with, but these guys are different. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed many memories with them, and I know they will always be there for me, but I feel like they bring something more, not necessarily to the friendship, but to me and my life.
I almost like to think of them as Guru’s; something I’m sure they wouldn’t agree on. I am using the term very loosely, from Western culture, meaning they are they for me, help me and guide me. If I am uncertain of the right way, or which path to choose, or how to handle a situation, they are both there to help lead me. Sort of as my moral compass, if you like, always making sure I am heading in the right direction. They are the kind of people, who I could sit with for hours in silence, and still feel really happy just from their company.
They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with, so pick wisely. If I was half the person these guys are, I would be beyond happy and proud of myself. They are the most respectful people I’ve ever met, and by some margin. I’ve spent so much time just watching them, observing them in different situations. The language they use, their body language, their thinking.. everything is only ever done out of perfect manors, respect and chivalry.
I am a very opinionated and argumentative person. I will always stand up for what I believe in, even if I am standing alone, and I will always fight for what is right. Personally, I think this is a good thing, but sometimes things get to me too much, and they build up and I can’t control myself and just explode. These guys can always keep cool, and always overcome their anger. This is how I want to be.
To start with, I was just stunned at how they could always keep their positivity and behaviour so perfect, in a world that can at times be so hard, cruel and problem filled (especially, I thought, for them).
They both live away from their families. One man works 8-9 months in Portugal, and then goes back to India every winter for 3-4 months, to see his family; his wife and his 3 sons, along with extended family of course. Now this is tough. I, along with his family and himself, know he is doing it for all the right reasons; to earn money to send back to his family, to give them a better life and his sons a better future, but not seeing them for up to 9 months has got to be so painful.
My Dad is the hardest working person I know, always has been and I’m sure he always will be. 7 days a week, for god knows how many years, to provide for us and make sure we don’t go without. When we we’re small, he worked away and we didn’t see him from Monday til Friday night, and we thought that sucked, but we got used to it. Now I feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself, when other people don’t see their families for months.
That brings me onto the other guy. He has one son, who is 13, and the last time he saw him was when his son was 5 years old and he left for Europe. 8 years. 8 years of not seeing your son, your wife, your mum, your family. When I found this out, it completely blew my mind, filled my heart and upset me so much. It is beyond imaginable how he and his son must feel.
I know for a fact my own mother couldn’t do that. No matter if it was for all the right reasons, I know she couldn’t leave us, and be apart from us for so long, and I imagine I will be the same. The sacrifice, commitment and dedication these guys, (along with millions of others in the world), is unreal. I still struggle now, to get my head around their situation, and how unbelievably hard it must be for them. I do understand that ultimately they are doing, working for and giving everything to their families, and they have my utmost respect.
Understanding this has opened my eyes to a level I didn’t even think was possible, and changed me as a person, my mind, and my views. Coming from such vastly different places in the world, our mentalities are naturally at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Since getting to know these guys; speaking with them, learning about their cultures, families and ways of life, my mind has opened massively.
I understand now that my problems are not problems, my worries are not worries, my wants are just plain greedy, and what I think and say I need are not at all needs. These guys are not from big rich families, rich houses and towns, but nor are they from poverty. Poorer places than I have experienced, but not from desperation. However, the stories they tell me that go on back home are hard to listen to, and sometimes heart breaking, and this is a big part of the reason a radical change has happened to me.
In the short while I have known both of these people, I feel like already I have grown as a person. They encourage me, motivate me and inspire me to be better. I have a new found burning desire to learn; from them, and from the world. The more you learn the more you will see and understand. I now look at every situation differently, I think about all aspects before making me decision. I don’t want half the things I wanted before, and have a new variety of things I do want; things that don’t benefit only me, but others; underprivileged people, or people who just need a helping hand.
I have different visions now, new ideas, thoughts, goals, aspirations and dreams. I want to help people, I want to make a difference to the world, I want to explore different places, I want to see poorer areas, and give something back. Everything and every thought I have now is completely altered, and even though it has stemmed from just 2 people and getting to know them, its changed my whole perspective, and therefore, life.
For this, I will be forever grateful. Your thoughts shape your behaviour, and your behaviour shapes you as a person, and I feel like these guys are only encouraging me, lifting me higher, guiding me in the right direction, and that means, because of them, I am being transformed into a better and better person every day. I will never lose contact with them, no matter where they or I am living. They are the kind of people I need to call a couple of times a week, just to check in with them and listen to them.
Since living here and getting to know so many different people, from different countries and different cultures, I have learnt that I am unbelievably lucky and blessed. To be born in the UK, to have my family always around me and supporting me and to have friends just down the road, (to say the least, read here the Top Things I Learnt To Be Grateful For, Just From Being British). To live in what I always thought was “a normal house with normal conditions”, I have now learnt are way above average for the millions of homeless and unsheltered, starving, people with malnutrition. I now realise just how good and easy I have got it, and how thankful and grateful I should be; not only for my personal lifestyle, but also for this massive shift in my mind, as I can now work every day on improving myself and the world around me.