The Power of Intuition — VI

Design, Used Car Yards & Flights of Courage

[This is a post by the other half of Zen Black. Oh, you didn’t know there is 2 of us.. did you?]

I graduated from University into a world of financial chaos in 2008. The only creative job I had landed many months later (which I absolutely loved) lasted only 5 months before I was made redundant.

I just couldn’t find any creative work after this. I worked a handful of retail jobs, wondering in depression, what the point of working so hard for a degree was.

Learning was never easy for me. It had always been a struggle. Things always came slowly. The combination of being relentlessly bullied had only made my time in school more difficult.

Eventually I found a standard entry level full time job, working in position that reduced my 3 year university design education to a mere 2% of my abilities — cutting and pasting digital images using Photoshop for newspaper ads and catalogues at a used car yard.

I had felt suffocated, not only by the lack of creative work, but the work place which was the ultimate ‘boys club’.

I don’t see myself as feminist (certainly not in any radical sense), but with these guys these was no ambiguity: They were outright sexist pigs.

I was bullied, belittled, shamed, unsupported and undervalued. My degree meant nothing to them. I was merely a useless cog in their wheeling and dealing of deceiving customers.

I was constantly told to ‘know my place’ by a sleazy department managers, while being relentlessly coaxed to meet one particular sleazebag at a local bar to discuss ‘work’ issues.

Thankfully, I had just enough of a backbone to keep declining.

By day, I worked this job, doing what I was told — just as the school system had trained me to do. By night I unleashed the creative artist out, in the expression of dance.

It was the only thing that was keeping me alive. The music, the intuitive movement in rhythm with another soul.

It was magic by night, death by day.

More than 2 years passed by living like this, and I was really struggling, frustrated and depressed and confused….

Then something happened: I got invited by a friend of mine to attend her marriage overseas.

I did not think twice. I decided to book a flight.

This would be my first international trip, and an effort to explore the world beyond the comfort zone: My own back yard.

My friend had moved to now be with the guy she met, while overseas. So I thought, well, I’ve always wanted to travel, and I should definitely make the effort to go over — not just for the wedding but for myself too.

I needed to explore what was left of the spirit in me.

So I organized everything and made the 10-day trip happen. It was an exciting time! I had four days in the city where my friend got married, and six days in another.

Soon after I landed in the 2nd city, felt like something moved in my heart. I didn’t know why, but I knew I needed to move my life over here.

To remove myself altogether from the work & life that was slowly suffocating me — from which, at that point, I could see no way forward.

I enjoyed my time & travels and came back determined to make a change.

But it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Years of conditioning was starting to play havoc with my decision making.

I remember once I got back to my hometown workplace, I kept pacing back and forth in the cafeteria, everyday, repeating “I’m quitting this job and moving somewhere else. I’m quitting this job and moving somewhere else.”

It sounded crazy, but it became my mantra. A week later the mad person within me had won.

By the end of month I had resigned.

I decided to trade my false sense of security, of a full time meaningless job, for the unknown — just based on the whisper of my intuition.

A ripple of events unfolded in my favor as a result of this decision.

I had to give notice to my shared accommodation, sort through all the stuff I had collected in my life, and say goodbye for now to friends and family.

The time just went by so fast.

I also had to sell my car, so I could have enough funds to support myself until I found work in my new city. I had been poor at saving money until then.

My car was a piece of shit — it wasn’t even worth a couple of k’s, and my expectations weren’t great.

It had also broken down recently and had to be sent it to the mechanics.

But in a moment of misfortune, after I picked the vehicle back up from the mechanics, some guy drove into the rear of my car at an intersection.

Just what I needed.

However this misfortune turned out to be not as bad as I thought. Thanks to road rules, he was liable for the damages.

My vehicle was deemed a write-off and I got covered for the entire insurance of the vehicle.

So I didn’t have to go through the difficulty of selling the car after all, and I received a decent payout.

I also received an extra months pay for official yearly leave, I had never claimed from work in the 2 years I was there.

I flew into the unknown with a mix of emotions. I felt excited to be taking flight in a new direction, and a new lease on life. But I also knew I had a lot of work to do to grow up.

I carried four bags of belongings (2 really large ones) with me across the ocean.

Most of that meaningless ‘stuff’ would be reduced significantly to live a more refined and simplified life in time to come, but that’s another story for another day.

I arrived from the airport to the central railway station.

I wandered with my bags down the main street where, unbeknown to me, there was a State funeral for some a prominent sporting icon that day.

Looking back at that moment, it was a symbolic representation of my life then — my old self dying.

I boarded with an acquaintance, who was also living in this city. But she lived far from the center of town, where all the design jobs were supposed to be.

The following weeks would be a combination of organizing new accommodation, exploring the dance scene, job interviews, and trying to find my feet in this new city.

I managed to find some hospitality work through someone I had met at the airport on my arrival. It was nice to have met a helpful stranger in a new city to begin my journey.

At some point through my ‘design’ job-hunts I got invited to a party by an acquaintance. As it turned out, someone from the party was moving on from a design position at their firm.

He encouraged me to apply.

I managed to find some temporary design work there. I would be working there on a contract basis, with the potential for full time work.

It was through this design contract job that a colleague forwarded me the phone number of someone who had a room available. I called the number, turned up for the ‘house interview’, and moved in soon after.

The house was a charming hundred year old-or-so Victorian Terrace style building, with all the elaborate details.

It was well kept, but it also had many quirks.

My room was comparable to an attic, with it’s old wooden floors, un-usable fireplace, and one small window.

In some ways, it was kind of like Paddington’s room! But I loved it, quirks and all.

For me, the locality and proximity to the town centre was most enjoyable. I would go out dancing in the evening when I could, and be able to walk back home within 10 minutes!

I had now sorted out accommodation, but I was quickly running out of money because the part time jobs were just not good enough to maintain the expenses of life in this new city.

I had been looking for a full time design job for 2–3 months in vain.

I was starting to wonder if my giant leap of faith into the unknown was going to be a massive failure. I kept distracting myself via dance to keep myself from facing the reality — that things weren’t really working out as I hoped.

Eventually, I had one of those really low moments, and I broke down in a heap.

I realized I couldn’t do this by myself, and I really needed help! It felt like a deep cry from my soul, hoping to reach out to a higher power…

A few days later, the small design firm where I was working on a casual basis, they finally offered me a position. But there was a huge kicker: I was going to get paid even less than what I was making back home in my copy/paste job.

This disturbed me a lot. I wondered what was the point of making all these sacrifices for my degree, working a low rung position for years, moving over here — only to get paid less than my zombie-job back home?

Around the same time I got a call back from another full-time job, I had applied for at a printing company.

The interviews were scheduled for the same day.

A job interview at the print company, and then a meeting with the small design firm to accept or decline the low-paying position.

Some would say I should’ve been grateful for having at least this much. I can understand that too, but something inside me was changing — I knew this kind of thinking just couldn’t help me move ahead in life.

This conflict, would invariably change the course of my, then, unconscious life.

I finished up the job interview at the print company (which did not go all that well), and I had an hour left before my meeting at the small design firm.

I was hungry — like, really hungry!

I knew I couldn’t afford to eat out at the hipster cafes near the train station. I decided that I would quickly walk back home and make myself a sandwich.

But then, as I was walking back, something written outside one of the cafe’s caught my attention.

It was some quote on a chalkboard.

I can’t remember now what that quote was, but I distinctly remember something about it just made me stop.

My feeling was to go inside, even though it was not feasible to get lunch here.

But I went in anyway.

Once I was in there, I thought: ‘I’m here now, I so I might as well order something.’

So I looked at the menu and ordered some kind of pasta. I picked up my food from the counter and took a seat at an empty table.

Just as I was about to take my first bite, I heard someone call out to me!

[ During my job researching phase, there was no internet at the house I was living in. So I would go to a nearby cafe to browse for jobs on their wifi.

One day, a scruffy-friendly-musician meandered in and struck up a light conversation with me.

Fast forward to a week or two, here he is, sitting with some other guy wearing a hat.]

Without any hesitation, they asked me: ‘Would you like to join us?’

Part of me was: ‘Leave me alone, I got important things to think about.’

But then another part said: ‘Just go with the flow.’

Well, the whisper had struck twice within the space of a few mins. So I switched tables, and decided to join them.

I would say the scruffy musician’s friend was a bit of a mad-hatter. He wore a Cuban hat and a blue pin-striped jacket.

Then, everything changed.

The mad-hatter just started asking me interesting questions, and he got me talking. For some reason I felt like openly sharing the real frame of mind I was in.

In the space of about 30 minutes, he convinced me that I should go and ask for exactly what I felt my time was worth, or walk away.

It’s a bizarre thing to say, but something in that conversation was really trans-formative.

I went into the meeting feeling a sense of clarity and confidence that had been missing for a very long time.

Somehow, this was the conversation which would encourage the spirit in me — that was craving some form of release, of meaning and purposefulness in my life.

Unbeknown to me at this point, the mad-hatter would become an extremely important part of my journey, hence forth..

You’ve already got a peek into his journey prior to this post.

Well, as it turned out, we are still in this journey together — time and again being thrown into unknown adventures.

From a curious intuitive whisper, to an inner awakening, sandwiched together with lots of crazy, dark, challenging, but ultimately life changing stories in between.

A lesser soul would have given up a long time ago.

But not us.