ASTROMALO, A Self Narrative

Jamie Astromalo
Sep 10, 2017 · 7 min read
All cultures and walks of life inspire me. Travel is a source of motivation.


I’m a hippie recovering from toxic corporate work cultures and environments. I nevertheless gained valuable knowledge from my experiences at an Amsterdam based gigantic multinational tobacco company, and at Canada’s largest bank. So, from now on you can remember me as the hippie in a suit. My post recovery goal is to help society value environmental growth as much as economic growth so future generations can enjoy more of nature’s beauty and less of its catastrophes. To achieve this goal means rebranding myself and to launch an adventurous career as a creative.

Where I come from

Growing up in the suburbs of Montreal, I observed almost everyone living identical lifestyles. All the people around me tried to fit into the same box so they can maintain a certain lifestyle and retire at a decent enough age to still enjoy their health. As an adolescent, I reluctantly subscribed to this aspiration but promised myself that I would skyrocket up the corporate ladder so I can retire earlier than most, and subsequently, enjoy life sooner and for longer than others.

I went to university to study commerce with a specialization in finance and investments, signed up for extracurriculars, added awesome people to my network, and built a great professional profile. (Based on my peer’s first jobs out of university I can practically guarantee any insurance or financial services company would have loved to have my occupy one of their grey square cubicles.)

Fresh out of university, I landed a dreamy job located in Amsterdam. Selected from 412 applicants as a multinational’s ‘management trainee’, a prestigious work-program that fast-tracks high potential graduates to leadership positions, my path was set to hopefully enjoy early retirement.

Awesome! So that’s it, mission accomplished. I achieved a lofty dream of mine pretty quickly.

I should feel great, but I don’t.

How can this accomplishment feel so meaningless? Why does this success feel so empty…?

Perhaps it’s because I didn’t listen to my true self, the inner hippie. Perhaps I aspired to do what I thought the people around me wanted to do for themselves. Perhaps I didn’t aspire to be myself; an overly empathetic nature obsessing tree whispering weirdo, who mainly eats apples and carrots, doesn’t shower every day or wear shoes all the time. The person I aspire to be is more comfortable being a circle when everyone else is trying to be a perfect square.

Reasons to believe

While I was completing my traineeship, I worked on myself. I trained my character. I redefined my status-quo. I practiced finding comfort while being a circle among squares.

This isolated me from the norm and allowed me to discover what I truly value.

Was the process challenging, lonely, and disconcerting?

Yes. But it was worth enduring because I’ve extracted some introspective gold.

During my self-evolution I realized 3 ideologies are part of my DNA:

  1. Humans belong to Earth, the earth does not belong to humans
  2. Listen to and share amazing stories
  3. Be creative, think differently.

Each aspect has its own definition and I’d like to share its special meaning with you.

1) Humans belong to the earth and not the other way around.

The most populated city in the state of Washington takes the name of a Suquamish and Duwamish chief who once said, “The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. The earth is sacred and men and animals are but one part of it. Treat the earth with respect so that it lasts for centuries to come and is a place of wonder and beauty for our children.” — Chief Seattle

Nature is the force that rules the world. The more we manipulate it, try to control, and disrespect it, the harsher it will reply. Humans are playing with a lot of fire (water and wind) and risk a serious torching.

I’ve taken action to do my part and play with less fire. I adopted a plant-based diet to minimize the share of planetary resources I consume. Animal products are super harmful to the environment and the production of food is insanely taxing on the earth’s resources, mainly water. Animals cohabit the with earth with us. They are not a god given gift. They are a product of nature fighting for survival just like us.

As you could probably guess, I was the only plant-based employee at the tobacco company, making me proudly, a circle among squares.

2) Tell a great story.

Every US $100 bill has his face on it, providing meaning to the words “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

Life is short and when your time on this planet is up it’s the stories you play a role in which live on after you do.

If I can create an incredible story I can reach a form of immortality. The strangers I’ve encountered in foreign places, the cultures I’ve experienced and my ability to listen are all sources of inspiration I can draw upon to create a memorable story. This includes observing and listening to opposing squares out there.

I’ve taken action in the form of becoming a better listener so that when I write, on forums such as Medium, I (hopefully) have something interesting to share.

3) Thinking differently is creativity.

Think back and try to remember when your imagination was limitlessly outrageous. When I was really young, I thought all the traffic lights were controlled by people. I actually thought that someone’s job was to flip a switch that made the lights go from red to green. It’s a silly thought but it’s very playful. It was also a thought developed completely independently from outside influences. It later proved to be irrational but the process of having independent thoughts or theories is lost upon us.

In today’s world, we are always being told what to do, how to do it, when to do it and where to do it. Our education system values conformity and teaches children to sit from 8 am to 4 pm, listen to instructions and take the same courses as everyone else. Institutions do this to us throughout our lives. As a child, I sat at a desk in school and then graduated to a desk at a cubicle to begin my career. This structured lifestyle values conformity and kills creativity. My shape didn’t fit in the structured and the misfit brought me back to my creative roots.

Furthermore, I deleted my facebook about as an action against the institutions which govern the information we consume. I’m no longer a slave watching regurgitated and similar media presented on my newsfeed. In the post-facebook days, I have slightly more control over what information I consume.

I don’t know how to express how important this is! When it comes to forming opinions of about the world the data or evidence you’re exposed to is so crucial. Exposure to multiple sources and opinions, especially contradicting ones, is what allows us to think about something ingenious that one else has thought of.

Steve Job said it best, “creativity is just connecting things.”

I agree with him, so in order for me to be able to connect things, I have to know a lot about the world. The more I know, the more links I can make, the more creative I can be.

The mark I aspire to make

The 3 aspects of my DNA have led me towards a radical shift in career paths. A deep love for nature, storytelling, and creative thinking are what motivates me to change the world. I want to provoke the way people think about our environment. I want to leverage my DNA to improve the condition for all life on earth.

Let’s change the world

When thinking about how to live life, some people live as if they will have a better life ahead of them. They dream of an afterlife in a place called heaven.

I think that’s absolutely foolish. Earth is heaven to me.

Despite the co-existence of sheer beauty and tragedy, this life has everything I’ve ever known; my family, dogs, food, love (in all its forms), sex, music, books, comedy, sport, philosophy, travel, they all exist here on planet Earth. As far as the hard evidence shows it exists nowhere else in the universe.

My experience on this planet has been so great that I want to minimize the risk of major tragedies and catastrophes so that generations of our species can experience more of everything the world has to offer.

The hippie in me reminds me that with a lot of love of unity we can make the environment more important to society than the economy.

All we need is a more love. I’m here to give all of it that I’ve got.

Jamie Astromalo

Written by

Storyteller | Font Geek | Nature Lover | Plant-based | Sustainist— Grounded earthling with an imagination that ventures to and through time, space and emotion

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