Remote Work on Tour: Part 3 — Getting into the Groove and then Life Happens!

Life doesn’t stop when you launch yourself into a new adventure. It takes on a whole new level of intensity or growth or involvement or effort. Or all of the above. When Naum Kaluzhny started on his 4-month Remote Year program, he was anticipating a journey of discovery. He wasn’t necessarily anticipating all the other things that ‘life’ throws at you along the way. And these things still have to be dealt with no matter where you are or who you’re with.

Moving to Marrakech

The whole remote working cohort moved en masse from Cape Town to their second month’s home — Marrakech. They were aware that the culture and environment would be very different, with a different dynamic and flow as everyone sought to establish new working and living patterns. This would feel like quite a dramatic change from the free-wheeling atmosphere and night-life in Cape Town that had accompanied and contributed to the group’s first high energy and intense weeks getting to know each other.

Kaluzhny was rather looking forward to the change and at the beginning of the month he was finding a more settled routine, more focused solely on work during the week with trips organized at weekends. The time for connecting and nurturing relationships had decreased and weekday distractions diminished. At the same time, he was fascinated by the very different culture and rhythm of life of Morocco and keen to take advantage of the exploratory weekend trips.

Such Is Life

But life has its own cadence. The natural highs and lows doesn’t stop for four months just because you are away. Into this second month of Kaluzhny’s work-tour abroad, a series of tragedies hit him and his friends — both near and far. Close relatives of two of his friends in the group died suddenly. Back home, one of Kaluzhny’s good friends passed away unexpectedly as well as another one’s relative. All in the space of a couple of weeks. It was a shocking series of events and Kaluzhny reeled from the news.

Dealing with such sudden and terrible news was very hard for Kaluzhny and his friends in the group to process, so far from home. People also deal with shock and loss in very different ways. Connections with some people get stronger. Other people can pull away. Kaluzhny found extraordinary support from key group members around him who helped him cope with his loss. At the same time, he found solace supporting those who were also suffering. At times, it certainly wasn’t easy. Grieving is a personal process that takes its own time.

And there were friends visiting as well! Life sometimes doesn’t let up. But these also meant diversions accompanying colleagues who were visiting from work, plus Kaluzhny and others got support from family as siblings and other relatives came over to enjoy Morocco’s vibrant culture. There were side trips and road trips. People splintered off and regrouped. Kaluzhny was energized and distracted, swept up in a whirlwind of activity.

Time for Reassessment

One person who was deeply affected by a family tragedy chose to return home and was expected to return later. With a more serious and thoughtful atmosphere prevailing, a few other people made the decision to depart for specific and personal reasons. One individual had lost their job at the end of the year and wanted to ramp up job search efforts in person back home.

Another had got engaged right before starting the 4-month program and decided that they preferred to be closer to their significant other. One introvert found that their deliberate choice to push outside their comfort zone was not achieving the desired results and decided to withdraw. Dealing with the effect of his own very personal challenges, Kaluzhny purposefully took heightened interest in cultural activities that served as both a useful distraction and comfort as he deepened his engagement in the unique and rich surroundings.

Onwards & Forwards

Great personal growth often happens during periods of adversity, when you have to dig deepest to draw on your mental and physical resources. This was certainly not what Kaluzhny had envisaged and at times he certainly wished he could have been home. But that was not an option and he doubled down on his friendships — local and distant — to manage and move through his sadness. What an emotional and spiritual journey his second month had turned out to be. Kaluzhny was ready for the next stop — Lisbon.