“I’m walkin’ back down this mountain
With the strength of a turnin’ tide
Oh the wind’s so soft on my skin,
The sun so hard upon my side.
Oh lookin’ out at this happiness,
I search for between the sheets.
Oh feelin’ blind and realize,
All I was searchin’ for was me.
Ooh all I was searchin’ for was me.”
I went to see the very fantastic Mr Ben Howard last night at The Metro in Sydney. I love him to bits for a number of reasons, including the fact that he hails from The West Country (like me), coming from Devon. And also, after my beautiful friend Boo introduced me to his debut album last Feb when I was back home in The Shire (Frome, Somerset), it actually helped me through an incredibly traditionary period in my life.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but when I went back to the UK, while I thought it was a two-week trip to say hello to all of my friends and family (whom I hadn’t seen after being away travelling & working for 9 months), and attend a friend’s wedding, it actually ended up being more of a goodbye.
When I left Sydney, I had no real expectations about my trip, apart from the fact that I knew it would be great to see everyone. What I hadn’t prepared myself for, was that 3 days into my trip, I would be missing Sydney like heck, and referring to Manly as home.
Even more interestingly, I had lived in London for 7 years, and had never referred to it as home. London was the place that I lived and worked in, Frome had always been home. And I guess, as the saying goes, ‘Home is where the heart is’. So the strange realisation for me was that, despite the fact that I was back in my home town, Frome now felt like where I was from, but indeed Sydney, and quite specifically Manly, was where my heart was.
It was in those first few days that I had the realisation, that Australia was where I was meant to be, and that when I came back home, I would do everything in my power to get a more permanent visa so that I could stay.
The tricky thing was that I wasn’t really enjoying my job at the time. My boss was a massive stresshead, every day there seemed to be some big drama that needed sorting, the requirements for the project that we were working on changed on a daily basis and despite the fact that I started each day with the best intentions of staying positive, by the end of the day I felt empty, drained and broken. Enter Ben Howard stage left.
Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom and quite specifically two songs in particular helped me through the next few months while I worked the end of my 6 month contract (Keep Your Head Up), and plucked up the courage to start my own business (The Fear).
I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, but I would listen to ‘Keep Your Head Up‘ every morning as I walked the 10 minute route from my flat in Redfern to our offices in Surry Hills. I set the intention to make the best of every day that I had left in that job, turn every negative into a positive, spend as much time as possible with the people who I loved at work and who inspired me, and go for a lunch at least once a week with my mentor.
As soon as I changed the meaning of a situation that was really quite unhappy and unsatisfactory, into an opportunity to let go of the negatives, my time at work transformed. And when I decided that I was going to set up my own business when I left my job, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I started to have more fun at work, I was still professional in my conduct and still got my work done, but I had decided that I was really going to do the best job I could at enjoying my last few months there. I’m so glad I did.
And I felt the most amazing relief when I walked out of the office building on 8th June 2012, as I left the Corporate World forever. And most importantly, exactly one week later, I registered my business, Thought Cloud, on 15th June 2012. To celebrate I bought a beautiful Triwa watch, so I would always remember the moment, and to remind me that it was time for a change.
The other interesting part of the song for me is this quote:
“I saw a friend of mine the other day,
And he told me that my eyes were gleamin’.
Oh I said I had been away, and he knew,
Oh he knew the depths I was meanin’.
And it felt so good to see his face,
Or the comfort invested in my soul.
Oh to feel the warmth of a smile,
When he said “I’m happy to have you home.
Ooh I’m happy to have you home.”
Which reminds me of my wonderful friend (and incredibly photographer) Mr Graham Binns, who took my photo when I was back in London last year. We had a fantastic day together and I gave him a good strong pep talk about his photography career too. I had the loveliest message from him when I returned to Australia saying that it was great to see me so happy and that it was awesome that I had found my spiritual home. I don’t think he could have summed up how I was feeling any more perfectly.
So, no matter how tough things might get in life and no matter what is happening right now that seems insurmountable, keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
I’ve just read that Ben was on the nominee list for the Mercury Music Award back in the UK last year, and won 2 Brit Awards for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best Male Solo Artist. Go Ben! You’re doing the West Country proud!
Inspiration for this post:
Ben Howards’ Keep Your Head Up