Today I left my shoes in the car, ran across the road and walked through the supermarket barefoot. It was a little cold for my feet in the store, but the sense of freedom is unparalleled and makes me wish North America would get rid of the “No Shoes” part of “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service”. They don’t know how they’re limiting themselves.
Prior to stopping at the store, Sean (my absolutely amazing partner in wholesome crime), and I had been down at Clovelly beach, our favourite swim spot. The water has recently come up from the Antarctic and the rush is intense, clearing the brain and sinuses. Sean was swimming laps, but I’m easily distracted by the abundance of marine life below and instead find my heart pumping from holding my breath than actual swimming. Today I spotted a new rainbow fish, and while searching for it under a rock edge, a big blue grouper fish swam right through my arms! I know this particular grouper well – he has a yellow starburst pattern around his eye and always seems to find me underwater. I call him Hal. Anyways, Hal and I hung out for a bit and I was about to swim on when he seemed to want to show me something. I went back and looked at what Hal was hovering over and saw an octopus was scooping up his tentacles under a rock! If I hadn’t seen him in motion, I never would have – his camouflage is impeccable. I floated above him in the freezing water for a good 10 minutes, before heading back to shore for hot tea.
It was a great day, and such a cool reminder from nature of how amazing life is when you stop and really look. Life all on it’s own is full of magic, easily seen when you step out of reality and into the world to see the moving synchronicity in things: how an octopus perfectly blends to his environment, the way sea plants move perfectly in time underwater, how every member of a school of fish floats in waves, keeping perfect spacing. And all these little things are seen, sensed, realised, and have the power to completely enchant.
I had a day like this 7 weeks and 4 days ago. Sean and I went down to Clovelly and saw whales surfacing less than 50m from where we stood on the shore, broad speckled tails clearing the water as they played in front of us. It was spectacular and, following the events of the previous day, felt like a sign that all was well in the world.
7 weeks and 5 days ago my ego took a big hit. I was unceremoniously fired from the job that I moved back to Europe for in December, then here to Australia in February. My working relationship with my boss was confusing and strained, but we had been friends and I trusted him – I went to his birthday parties, ran with his wife, brought presents back for his kids from South America. Working together hadn’t been easy, but I stayed in part out of loyalty, and truthfully out of fear I’d be perceived of as lazy by or not-tough-enough if I quit. So I stayed quiet through various frustrations – the weeks I couldn’t work because they hadn’t filed my visa papers, reporting my activities by the hour, the chauvinism they self-described as “French”. When I worked in the office, the young, inexperienced female employees were spoken of by what they wore, what they weighed, and what they ate. When I spoke up about it, they told me that even though I’d already worked 2 years in Europe, I still didn’t understand European culture. The office-wide joke was that they needed sexual harassment training. Later two of these men, during an informal meeting with surgeon colleagues and another coworker, told one of the surgeons to take my card, adding “so you can do her.” (They later apologised when I brought it up, saying that despite working in English their entire professional career, the two of them believed the phrase meant “to cook”…). At the time I remember thinking that being fired was the best thing that could happen, but to be honest, I’m only just coming to terms with how impactful the experience has been. I’m anxious writing about it, afraid I’ll come across as overly sensitive or bitter. It’s just what happened though, and is part of the reason I haven’t written much in the last several months.
Each day improves, and this week is great. I’m free and back to living the life that I am much better suited for – without shoes! Sean and I have decided to go back to Canada and South America, and will leave in 2 weeks for a trip of five months. Little is planned so far, but we have lots of ideas to make each day a masterpiece.