Everything stopped with a bang…
I braked for a turn, the car behind me did not.
The collision shook me and threw my head around like a ragdoll. Irritated and a little dazed, I wanted nothing more than to just keep driving. I didn’t have time for this. It was the first day of my ‘Boost your Business’ weekend which I had organized for 14 Dutch entrepreneurs in Curaçao. The participants were there waiting for me, and I also had to prepare for the BBQ that evening. After the workshop I needed to finish my new book ‘Handboek voor Wereldburgers’ to have it in stores a few weeks later. My calendar was full of lectures, workshops and trips. No time to waste…
“At least check if your bumper is damaged” said a sensible voice in my head. I was shocked when I saw the back of my car: it was half a meter shorter. The big jeep behind me was also badly damaged. My car turned out to be a total write off and I had a whiplash.
The whiplash caused pain in my neck and back, I was not able to sit or stand for long, not able to lift anything, and I had to move extremely slowly. More than that, I was not able to think, concentrate or read properly. I was nauseous. After doing nothing for a few hours, I would have to go back to sleep again, to give my head a rest.
How do you find place for forced rest in a busy, productive and driven life? You can’t. Yet an accident like this forces you to redefine all your priorities. Tim Ferriss writes in his book The 4-hour workweek: “What if you could or could only work for half an hour a day, for whatever reason, what would you do and would you not do?” Before the accident, the concept seemed inconceivable. What situation could occur that you could only work for half an hour a day? Now I knew what it was. And I also learned right away that I had to choose really well in that half hour. If I accidentally spent half an hour on Facebook, my energy would be used up for the rest of the day.
The funny thing was that everything I dropped was either picked up by others or it just had to wait. I was grateful for Martijn Aslander and Peter Ros who filled in for me on the Boost your Business weekend (Thanks!). People would send me a reminder about really important things, but the rest just waited. It turned out that some things just weren’t that important and didn’t have to be done at all.
The things that I learned direcly after the accident (and that I am still learning today) can be useful, even if you don’t get into an accident:
Focus on one thing at a time.
Adjust your expectations
Don’t waste time and energy on people and things that don’t matter.
Listen to your body.
Appreciate how full life is normally
Clear your calendar, remove your commitments and try and keep it that way.
Recognize perfectionism towards self and others and let it go.
Explore the wonderful world of yoga, breathing, relaxation and mindfullness.
Embrace the siesta
While I was writing ‘Handboek voor Wereldburgers’ and living the associated nomadic lifestyle, I’d already done a lot of minimizing (fewer things, less paper, fewer to do’s), but the accident added an extra dimension: only the most essential things could be given space. I’d enjoyed all the workshops that I had given (at a frantic pace) the year before in Berlin, Barcelona, Curaçao and Mallorca and other beautiful locations. The following year needed to be one of peace, of flow.
About a year before this accident, I felt displaced. The three places that I loved all fell away. Then I fell in love with a new place. I bought a beautiful old farmhouse in Mallorca with my partner (my ‘Mr Wrong’). The quiet village life and the 5000 square metres of almond trees called me, more than ever. I wanted to rest there for a few months, get better, reconnect with the earth, nature and with myself. Pure life in the moment. People may want to come by and enjoy my (new) rhythm … To learn about self-sustainable living, eating from nature and more.
So everything ends up back on its feet again. A new place, a new balance, a new pace. Perhaps a new book in due course?
This post was originally published in Dutch as ‘My moment of 2015’ on www.mijnmoment.com