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Reconnect II

November 23, 2018

As you know, I had a historic moment in my life this summer – I harvested my first tomato. This is bigger than you think. This is huge. (Not the tomato, but the fact that I was growing tomatos.) Let me explain.

As a trained forester and environmental scientist, my path of constant professional disillusionment started the moment I signed my first work contract. It got worse a few years back when I started at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

I had landed my dream job there, moved to DC, drove past the White House every day, made tons of money, traveled to a new country every month and had a general feeling of accomplishment and pride. It was a wow! phase that didn’t last very long. The more I was jetting around the globe trying to solve environmental problems in exotic places, the more a certain feeling crept in. First really subtle. Because I was enjoying the invitations to exclusive events, the Hilton pool membership and the business class lounge in Sao Paulo.

After a while I realized though that I knew the Panama airport by heart. I met random colleagues there and knew the snack selection in the Copa Airlines lounge. That wasn’t so sexy any more. Besides, the IDB was financing soy crushing plants in Paraguay.

It took me months and years to admit to myself that this wasn’t what I wanted in my life. That what I wanted was less, not more. I seriously needed to let that sink in. People didn’t understand first (me neither). You don’t want more money?! Are you crazy? Not more prestige, more travel, more miles, a longer list of cool shit on your CV, a fancier business card, a more expensive pool membership? No.

I missed my friends. I missed good food. I missed spontanuously showing up at my parents’ house for a weekend.

I realized I wanted less of what I had gotten myself into and more of something else.

Less work – more time.

Less networking – more friendships.

Less money – more freedom.

Less plans – more moments.

Less travel – more balcony.

And here we are, back in the tomato bed again.

A few more months of agonizing, the most relieving job exit interview ever (- Do you want a higher salary? – No thanks, I bought a one-way ticket to Fiji.), an 8 month trip from Fiji to Fuji, another transatlantic move (in parallel), the first full European summer after years, a new job, an in-country move from Munich to Berlin and a new apartment later I was attending a poetry festival this spring.

The rest you know from my recent post about the best food in the world. That’s when I started reconnecting.

In January this year, I was sent by my current employer to Peru to do a merket assessment on green agricultural investments for an “impact investor” interested in sustainable projects. Flying over from Germany and back for one week. That’s when it hit me big time: wait a minute, something is wrong. I am repeating the same patterns that were bugging me back at the IDB! I’m not connected at all! I don’t even know how to grow vegetables myself!

And here we are, back in the tomato bed again.

I invested in the balcony (it was a wasteland), constructed a high bed, ordered seeds, collected plants from the streets, took a course in urban permaculture. I came to the realization that a) I hadn’t been connected at all, and b) that I have two favorite methods of reconnecting: observation and getting black hands and feet. The result is above mentioned tomato. The best of my life so far.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 16, 2019 15:27

    ezt valahogy elpasszoltam idáig. jó írás, de a mondatra : “I missed spontanuously showing up at my parents’ house for a weekend.” szeretném most itt felhívni a figyelmet. Ez sajnos ezután sem jött még be. Hahahaha! Puszkó

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