The Way you live your day is the way you live your life – Annie Dillard
The first time I heard this powerful quote from Annie Dillard it did not yet hit home. I heard it the first time said very nonchalant by a friend as I was running through the lists of work in my head, replying to my director on what’s app every time my phone buzzed, 10pm on a Saturday night while out with the girls in the heels higher than most people’s standards. I was extremely close to burning out and being present in moments became a luxury I could not afford – I soothed my conscience by telling myself that is what adulting is all about. I am building my empire!
This is not a sad story about the girl who chose a career and complained about her first world problems. This is a story about how scuba saved my life!
I wish I could say that I ran home immediately and changed my life after hearing the quote from Annie Dillard, but I didn’t. I was too deep in the rabbit hole (Better known as the digital agency from hell) and we were all – as a matter of fact – mad there!
One very ordinary day I spontaneously burned out. The thing about burnout is that everyone can see the warning signs except for you. And by the time you realize what is happening it is too late to stop it. After months of 16-hour work days, I was going through the bucket lists things I never got around to do in a very zombie-like fashion. I gave it all up to build my career, a career that leads to extreme burn out and selfish ambition. Amidst this storm I realize something. I realized that sometimes there is no next time. No second chance. Sometimes it is now or never. I felt like I missed the NOW of my life and the only solution was to phone my mom and cry and cry and cry. I took all the leave days that was just sitting there (it was never a good time for me or the agency to take my leave) and decided I am going home, for the first time in two years.
Home (where I grew up) is on a farm just outside a small town in the heart of KZN called Vryheid which appropriately named means freedom.
My dad, mom and baby bro (one of the 3 siblings I call my own) picked me up from the airport where my dad very proudly announced that I finally get to tick off one of the items on my bucket list. I am going scuba diving. Not where, but in Sodwana – literally the middle of nowhere. No cell phone reception, no car, no fancy restaurant. Like survivor style. Baby bro and I will be camping and doing our open waters at Coral Divers. A place where the monkeys steal food and no one has even heard about a digital strategist/ account manager. A place where I could not intimidate people with my title or my company and accomplishments and killer instincts in a boardroom. No, I was marooned on an island with my teenage brother where I actually had to win people over with my pleasant personality. My brother shot me a glance that basically said we’re screwed!
It is now or never!
I climbed out of the car reluctantly watching my last bit of signal drop. Here I was standing, dressed for success, at Coral Divers that is situated within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park which directly and correctly means miracle and wonder. The exceptional beauty did leave me breathless, or maybe it was just the very hot and humid air. It was hard to tell considering my anxious state and the fact that I actually had to connect with people and not network with them, and it has also been an hour since I was able to check my newsfeed. I have above all forgot my charger – I swear my mom took it out intentionally. The social and relaxed atmosphere I was promised was not happening. The sweat was dripping from me. The parentals got back in their car after we settled into our tents and left us standing with digital withdrawal.
Baby bro and I ended up playing poker next to the pool and then we met our classmates. A lovely couple, both principals in a small town with two teenage boys and a tween girl. We also met our instructor. A young super blonde Afrikaans boy. Very nice, open face as my gran would say, but would he be able to save me when I drown?
Scuba: My miracle. My wonder
Scuba diving was the miracle that saved my life and ironically enough in many ways my career. As Annie Dillard so famously said; “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” I realized that how I spend my hours, my days my years stole joy and passion from my life. Taking action to change the life that trapped me by taking that first step to the free-spirited life I was always so well know before, become the net with which I started to slowly catch my hours and days again. It started with me passing my open waters at Sodwana (read all about it here). I then went back to Cape Town to quit my job and do my advanced in Sodwana. My story has only just begun.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME?