Professional Gypsy – confessions of a routine-phobe

I’ve never had a ‘proper’ job. For the first five years of my life as a sound engineer I was on the payroll with a live audio company, but the only desk I’ve ever been behind is the mixing kind, and the music business doesn’t run on a 9 – 5. Weekends and bank holidays ceased to mean anything when I left school, and if I ever know what I’ll be doing in six months’ time it’s close to a miracle. It’s fair to say that routine and I have never been on first name terms.

Touring life does have a daily routine to it – we wouldn’t be ready for the show if we loaded in differently every day. But I love going off and doing a thing for a spell of time – like a tour, or a yoga retreat – and then finishing the thing, and then the thing is done and I can plan another thing. Maybe it’s childish, but the idea of having the same routine on a weekly basis just doesn’t work for me, and for this love of freedom I pay a price.

I’ve never wanted kids, which is just as well, because with this pathological objection to routine I’d be a pretty useless parent. I’m reasonably good with money and I do ok financially, but budgeting is a near-impossibility when you don’t have a steady income. Maintaining close friendships relies heavily on technology and understanding because seeing anyone regularly isn’t an option; and whilst I desperately want a dog, I’m struggling to see how that could work when the idea of sleeping under the same roof for more than three months at a time makes me want to run for the hills.

And it’s this objection to routine that plays a large part in my current circumstances. If you follow my posts (and thank you, if you do), then you’ll know that my husband and I bought a large tract of rainforest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland of Australia last year. Our plan was to create a day-retreat centre, where people who’d love to go on a yoga retreat but couldn’t find the time could come and recharge their batteries and have a taste of that replenishment. I fell under the spells of our fantasy and of this extraordinary place, and leapt right on in without asking myself some pretty fundamental questions.

Questions like: does the idea of running a business appeal to you? Will you be happy in a place where you need to stay put, in order to make it work? How will you feel, doing the same thing, every week?

You see the problem. Whilst the market research stacked up, I’d failed spectacularly to do the personal research into whether this was going to work for my personality. And after sitting with it for several months, it became glaringly apparent that it wasn’t. The fantasy was vastly different from the reality, and so we are selling our beautiful rainforest retreat.

There are other contributing factors. We both travel a lot and need to be closer to an airport, and we don’t enjoy the quiet of country living. (I know, it was going to be a retreat, of course it’s quiet…. but somehow our lust blinded us.) It’s an incredible place, and whilst I have no regrets about having got this far, I know that there will inevitably be an element of regret that it didn’t work out with our rainforest dream. But the fact is, this was always going to happen. If it hadn’t been this property, it would have been another. I had a bee in my bonnet about the retreat idea, and the only way I would be dissuaded was by seeing first-hand what the reality of running a business would mean, and realising for myself that it wasn’t for me.

I’m never going to find comfort in routine – sometimes I wish I could, but it’s not who I am. I’m not business-minded and I thrive on having the freedom to travel for months at a time. I knew all of that, and still I went ahead. My big failure in all of this was not in buying the place, or in being who I am, but in not asking myself the hard questions that might have opened my eyes. Who knows, maybe I still would have gone ahead – in a way I hope I would have, because I’ve learnt some invaluable lessons whilst living in a rainforest, and as life experiences go it’s not a bad one! My pathological objection to routine might make life more difficult sometimes, but it’s never dull – and childish or not, I’d still rather mess up than never try.

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