As a young child, my weekends were usually the same. Dad would drive me over to grandma’s house and dump me there for the weekend. We would either sit by the fire watching black-and-white movies on an old TV screen, a mug of hot cocoa in hand, or walk down to the local ‘whist drive’ – a group of old ladies playing cards.
On drive nights, I would sit by myself with a glass of warm lemonade. Sometimes the barman would chat. He was the one who shattered my beliefs about Father Christmas, which led to me getting a slap around the legs from Dad for spilling the beans to my younger brother.
On one of those Saturdays, the barman asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question evoked another bad memory. The weekend earlier, grandma and I had been watching a film about a young girl who went to live a pious life in a nunnery.
I loved the film and told my so-called school friends about how I dreamed of shaving off my hair and giving my life up to god. By coincidence, the very same day, the same question was asked in assembly by the school headmaster.
I was pointed out by my classmates, made to stand in front of the whole school, tell them my biggest secret, and then deal with the laughter, shame and humility all alone.
Perhaps those past experiences led me to rebel against the norm, to not worry about what I would do when I grew up, what my true life’s purpose would be.
Life moved on. From high school, university, being bullied in the workplace, adventures on the high seas to other countries, working on private yachts in the Mediterranean, looking after second homes for the rich and famous, marrying, having kids, creating a home and sharing it with others, to where I am today: living in a two-roomed home by the beach in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
If you had given me a crystal ball when I was a 10-year-old child of working-class parents, would I have been able to foresee all my life’s stories, the twists and turns? Of course not! All these experiences made me who I am today, a unique individual with a library full of memory books that only I can tap into.
When I sit and contemplate my mind’s library, I can be proud of most of the books that I find there. I have followed my heart and intuition at every turn along my life’s path. When something does not feel right or isn’t working, I make an effort to change it, to get curious and find new solutions.
I remain true to my heart as much as I can, treat others as I wish to be treated, daily learn something new and at the same time serve others in some way. Each book, in my mind’s library, shows me just how far I have come along that path, how much I have learned and how much potential I still have to learn more.
My youngest boy is about to leave university and is finding it hard to step into the big wide world. Where does he go next? How does he choose the right career path?
For me, there are no ‘wrong’ answers, as long as you do something that includes two basic steps: evolve and help others evolve. Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition, plant one step in front of the other and worry about the bigger picture at another date.
I am not sure whether I believe in reincarnation (I will tell you when I get there!) yet I do believe that we have only one life right now which we need to make the most of it. Failure to do this is a failure to live a meaningful life. How you do this is up to you.
I still don’t know what I want to be when ‘I grow up’ yet I know my true purpose in life – to learn, evolve and help others do the same. What about you?
Kay Newton is a personal development coach based in Zanzibar. She’s an author, confidante and Tai Chi instructor. Follow her on www.Kay-Newton.com