My Life and Other Incidents

 

Karen sewing

Making a cooling coat for Radley.

I’ve always found it hard to settle. I think I caught the travel bug fairly early on. When I was growing up, in South Africa and Zambia, I changed schools thirteen times and it seemed like we were always on the move.

I’ve never known what I wanted. I have enough diplomas and certificates to paper the walls of a small house. I’ve worked as a mechanic, a sound engineer, an artist, a researcher in local radio, and a web content writer.

I’ve packed eggs, flowers and vegetables, worked as a quality controller in a clothing factory, and in the NAAFI club at a Royal Air Force base.

The longest I’ve ever lived in one house is two years.

For years I considered myself a failure because I’m not climbing the career ladder, I don’t own my own home, I don’t have a car and I can’t make up my mind which country I’m going to live in.

I would fly back and forth between South Africa and England like a demented swallow; chasing the summer, living out of a backpack and changing my address more often than a fugitive.

So many times I’ve been asked: “When are you going to settle down?” “When are you going to get a proper job?” “Have you got a private pension?” For most of my life I allowed myself to feel guilty. I convinced myself I was unsuccessful and that I would never amount to anything.

Not any more!

I no longer judge what I do according to what I think is right in the eyes of society. I no longer feel guilty about the choices I make. I look back on my life and realise that I enjoy a freedom that many people can only dream about.

So what if I have my hair in dreadlocks and I rarely wear shoes? So what if I rent a home for a few months then dump the toaster and the bedding at the nearest charity shop, toss my clothes in a backpack and beg a lift to the closest airport?

Does that make me a failure? I don’t think so! A little irresponsible, perhaps. A little selfish? Probably, but why not?

I don’t burden myself with the trappings of modern society, I’m fit and healthy, and there’s a whole world out there to be explored.

I may not have a steady job, a house, a car, or children, but I’ve travelled in Africa, Europe, America, and Canada, I’ve learned to scuba dive and surf, I’ve jumped off a paratrooper’s training tower, flown a plane, delivered babies and slept under the stars.

I have artwork in private collections on three continents, I’ve been sailing off the coast of Africa, down a river in England and around the Greek Islands. I’ve almost drowned myself in a charity raft race, swum in the Indian Ocean, The Pacific, The Atlantic, The Mediterranean, and the North Sea.

I’ve seen whales, dolphins and sharks, cuttlefish, crabs and pipe fish. I’ve been stung by jellyfish and snorkelled with loggerhead turtles.

I’ve met people from all walks of life and stayed in both five star hotels and tents. I’ve rented a house with a bunch of crazy people, lived in a VW Kombi and shared a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with my best friend, a flock of bats, countless insects and a mouse.

I’m currently in the UK writing my forth novel, and playing parent to a rescued Greyhound. Who knows what’s next? I don’t, but I know I’m going to have fun doing it, whatever it is.

 

 

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