I used to be a “striver”. I was always striving for something. It never really felt that great, all that striving; it felt like I was running on one of those airport conveyor belt walkways but going the wrong way, against the tide so to speak. Everybody else seemed to have a plan. They knew what they wanted from life, and they were out there getting it. For this walrus, it was not like that at all. I had no idea what I wanted from life nor how to get it, and although there was plenty of fun, the overall backdrop was gloomy.
Those self help books, of which there are so many, always promised health, wealth and happiness, and I should know – I read most of them. But for me things had to get worse before I sort of broke, and then with love and help the pieces got put back together, and I became a new walrus. The rocky road to recovery from mental health issues is littered with corny sayings and twee one liners, but the fact is that each person has to find their own way and be willing to accept help from the right people at the right time, and just get on with it.
I have been healthy and happy for many years now (the wealth took a little longer). One of the negative emotions that had blighted my past was fear, the kind of fear which holds you back, stunts your growth, prevents you from stepping out into the light and saying, “here I am, look at me – this is what I think” – well that emotion was almost gone in the new walrus. It can occasionally resurface, but only mildly, and for this I am truly grateful.
Between the ages of 42 and 52 I did lots more striving, but this time on my terms and in a direction set by me. It had dawned on me that I hate being told what to do, and that being an employee (and therefore having a boss) was never going to work for me. I did all that striving and whoever owned the company reaped the rewards. Sure, they gave me a salary and a car, but I was miserable and felt that there was no way I’d ever have the kind I freedom I craved, playing by their rules. The only way to escape was to be an owner of a business, a business with something positive to offer the world, in which everyone who worked there could feel proud and glad to be involved – so that’s what my wife & I did. It was never easy but always worth the effort, and now that we have sold up I am truly free to live life on my terms.
I love my family and I love my bees. I think my bees are sort of family, but they probably disagree. When I watch them working away, doing plenty of striving of their own, each with its own task, each performing a tiny function as part of a wonderful larger enterprise, I wonder sometimes if they are happy. They probably don’t have such emotions, but if they do I hope they are at peace with their roles and their place in the system. I was a rogue who could not fit it – they would probably kick me out if I was a bee.
But as it happens I’m a walrus, not a bee. I’m also feeling very lucky to have found my freedom and a way of life that keeps me happy, healthy and perhaps even a little bit wise. I am one of those beekeepers who loves honey. Some don’t, surprisingly. I am currently enjoying some delicious miel de tomillo (thyme honey) as I sit looking across a pool, then a paddock with horses, then olive groves, to the beautiful mountains above Bunyola. Lucky me!