I’ve been in Berlin for about a month now.
In a couple of days I’m flying back to Barcelona, but it’s going to be temporary: as soon as I can – hopefully in about a month – I’m going to come back to Berlin, this time to live.
I wasn’t planning on this though perhaps I did have a presentiment that it might happen. Berlin is just the sort of city which I thrive in, large and cosmopolitan with lots of cool alternative scenes. In many ways it’s better for me than the already large and cosmopolitan Barcelona: it’s probably got more interesting and alternative people in total; it’s greener – has much more parks and trees – and I feel it is somehow less stressful psychically; and living is cheaper. Besides this, life has conspired to place me several very good friends in this town. I still have the most connections in Barcelona, but Berlin almost rivals it even though I’ve only spent a month here.
I suppose I was getting a bit tired of Barcelona. Not that I don’t like it: I love the people I know, the scenes I go to, and what the town has done for me. I was born in England but my life really started in Barcelona. That’s such a big thing.
But Barcelona has this stressful vibe I don’t like, probably due to crowdedness, lack of nature, the high cost of living, and a general lack of money to go around.
I know this last point is very relative but compared to Berlin the difference is so noticeable. In Berlin money doesn’t seem to hang over people’s heads in the same way as in Barcelona. In Barcelona people have to fight for badly paid jobs and as an entrepreneur I was feeling the hopeless squeeze of my clients cutting back more and more on their spending. There’s a feeling of uncertainty for the future, a general nervousness in the air. It’s not a nice environment to be living in.
I was tired of struggling. Maybe that’s not just about Barcelona but certainly my struggle was rooted there. I was paying too much for a flat and earning too little. And I was doing something I didn’t overly like, which didn’t motivate me to work more than the bare minimum to survive. Well, I had other things to be thankful for. But that part, at least, was not much of an existence.
In Berlin, I have a new opportunity to do something I really feel is aligned with who I am – a something that I’ll describe in future posts. It’s energising, exciting to think about. It feels very, very right for me in this moment.
Those of you who were following me on Facebook will know that my life came to a crunch in the last few months. My money situation was getting critical, and I was having emotional upheavals at every turn. Finally, I went through a breakup with my then-girlfriend María José.
At that point I was absolutely exhausted and had no idea what I was going to do. I was even considering the worst case scenarios of being forced out of my house and living on the street.
But I think that when I touched bottom like this, I was forced to confront the parts of myself that were bringing me into this situation.
I think these parts, the root of my problem, can be summed up as this: dependency on others for survival.
I depended on my parents. On my girlfriend. And on my clients even. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to hold myself up on my own, and so I expected these to be my strength for me.
I think my sense of dependency kept me in a line of work that didn’t feel entirely right to me.
Consciously I thought I didn’t have any other option. Perhaps I was even manifesting a lack of options on a metaphysical level.
Unconsciously, though, I was hoping my clients could help me survive because I didn’t feel like I could on my own. Because of this unconscious belief, I kept myself from finding a line of work that would make me feel strong. I stayed in English teaching because it kept fulfilling my expectations for a need to depend on the help of others to survive. It was scary to think there could be something better out there.
When life came to a crunch, I was being forced to face up to my pattern in all areas of my life. I was losing clients, my parents were facing financial problems of their own, and my emotional upheavals brought me to depend emotionally so much on my girlfriend that she couldn’t take it any more. I think she was in turn facing up to her own pattern – in her case, of caring too much about people to the point of self sacrifice.
On Becoming An Alchemist talks about this process, called transmutation. By experiencing my negative patterns intensely, I was “burning them off” so to speak. This is actually one of my preferred ways to grow and heal as a person as it involves living life fully rather than cloistering yourself as many spiritual paths tend to involve.
On a conscious level I wasn’t intending this whole process to happen – well apart from a few formal intentions to the Universe to let me grow quickly, whatever it takes* – but I think I can take credit for submerging myself in the experience, holding some measure of consciousness as I went through it, and maintaining a sense of faith that everything happens for a reason even when I didn’t know what that reason was. This faith lets me flow with life and work with the Universe to co-create my path. In other words, by giving up one half of the control of my life to the Universe, I get the reigns of the other half. I think it’s been one of my greatest assets.
— *The exact wording of my intention is that I intend to heal and grow spiritually as fast as I can within what is good for the Highest Good Of All and within the larger context of my life purpose as a whole, being ready to experience whatever this process requires, intending always pleasant learning experiences but being ready to go into unpleasant ones if that is what it takes. —
So after my life came to the point about where I felt I couldn’t take it anymore – things eased. I realised my life lesson. And things started to flow again.
I remember just when I arrived in Berlin a month ago, I was faced with a hard situation. It was not unlike one I’d faced a few months before that. And yet I experienced it differently.
The first time I had been nervous, had felt very uncomfortable with the need to depend on myself so much.
And yet this time I felt my own self dependence very clearly. I stayed very calm and remembered that whatever happened, I had the resources in me to work things out.
I felt my self dependence inside me like a base, situated somewhere around (or possibly comprising?) my first chakra. A base I was standing on. I didn’t need to lean outwards to find other supports, I was perfectly supported on my own internal base. The feeling is quite a clear metaphor for how I was now relating to the world.
I dealt with the whole situation without losing my cool, even when other people were. I even managed to be a support for others, rather than looking for their support. That was a pretty clear sign to me how I’d changed.
And funnily enough, just after my transformation I received an offer from a wealthy friend of mine to employ me doing something that would be totally heart-centred and connected with my real skills. And, a couple of weeks later, I got ANOTHER offer – the one which I’ve accepted and which has the prospect of changing my life for a long time, probably forever. As I said, it fits perfectly into my sense of purpose and will give me the opportunity to do some real good for the world, such that money should flow to me in return with no need for a struggle.
I still receive help from others, of course. Who doesn’t? But unlike before, I don’t lean on others. The difference is subtle sometimes but the results are not so subtle. Unlike before, things are now finally flowing, finally working.
I think I could only have gotten this opportunity after first learning this life lesson. For other reasons, too, things have fit into place just now in the most perfect way. I think that everything came in its own perfect time, as it should be. By flowing with life rather than fighting it I made the most out of this process.
I’m so thankful.
Barcelona To Berlin
So, I’m going to spend the next month preparing for the move.
I’ve got money now. Problems that were overwhelming before have become relatively trivial. I feel like I’ve “powered up”.
It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to Barcelona, particularly the people there who I love. There’s going to be the question of “what if” I stayed, what if I took these connections further. Yet, Berlin feels so right for me just now, and I will be back to visit Barcelona. Hopefully quite frequently.
Luckily one of my closest friendships is strongly considering coming to Berlin too. That would be so great if it happened. Apart from that I will so much miss María José. We still deeply love each other. And there are other people who it’ll hurt to be far from.
But nowadays we have planes and internet, so what is far anymore? We’ll stay very connected and that’s great to think about.
Barcelona, Berlin – that’s just geography. Wherever you are and whatever you do, it’s the love that stays with you. Right?