PHOTOS | HELEANA GENAUS
After a challenging week, it’s the weekend and I’m in Brisbane for work… which I extend to the whole weekend to take a moment to exhale and relax.
On Saturday night I get myself a cab back to my hotel room to meet my husband who’s flown in for the night to join me. As I jump in a cab, the driver is a young, north African man listening to what sounds like Arabic radio really loudly. So loudly I had to shout out my destination, and trust he heard me as he started driving off.
A million things start rolling through my head as we drive off. Has he heard me? Does he know where I’m going? Is he an extremist? Don’t be silly, he’s probably listening to talk back in a language he understands. Does he know where he’s going? Oh well…
As the radio announcer finishes what he is saying, clearly engrossed and deep in thought, my cab driver turns his radio off, and we’re left in an awkward silence for a few moments. Just as I start feeling like I’ve interrupted a moment for him, he turns to me as says…
“do you feel like time is speeding up?”
“ah… (please don’t get religious on me, I wanna night off)… no?”
“what I mean is, as the clock does this (making a clockwise rotation with his finger), if you don’t keep up with it, do you feel like you miss out? Do you think that is what smart people do… keep up?”
And with that, we talk… well I listen, and he talks… about how he feels like he can’t commit to anything more than his taxi driving and that everyone else in the world is smarter than he is. I find myself relating, and almost consoling him as he explains a disappointment in himself.
This is really uncanny for me to be hearing from a total stranger - I’d been feeling the exact same way all week! The momentum I’d built in my own life was getting away from me, I had stumbled and was barely keeping up, which left me looking for others to blame (because that’s easier than taking ownership), tired, ungrateful and grumpy.
As he keeps reflecting, he tells me stories of his friends who have saved heaps of money, who have lost weight to maintain their health, who have started businesses and traveled because they made a decision and were disciplined enough to see them through. Clearly he was upset with himself for every time he tried, while his intentions were good and true, he never saw those goals through.
I couldn’t possibly have related to this guy more. We're in the middle of seeing through construction for Rising Sun Workshop's final and permanent location, maintaining my architectural career, educating the next generation of designers, trying to keep IVV alive AND trying to loose 5kg, get fit, meditate (coz that’s what busy successful people do to maintain perspective apparently)…. oh and maintain my family relationships during a tough time, find a new place to live and be married.
I beat myself up for all the stuff I don’t do well, when I could be focussing on what I have to be grateful for.
As we get lost trying to find the right one-way street to get to my hotel (don’t worry, he caps the fare off because he’s lost) I remind him that…actually, he is not unique. We all put stuff off, it is way more normal to procrastinate on the hard stuff, which is usually the stuff that makes us happy. It is normal to live comfortable and unhappy than it is to get used to being uncomfortable and very happy. I’ve been on both sides, and the truth is unless you’ve got a real purpose behind you… and by purpose I mean a drive that you couldn’t live with yourself if you didn’t pursue… you’ll never get your arse into gear. It’s not enough to get fit or save money or quit your job for the sake of it or worse, because we “should”. We need a really good reason to do it in order to jump out of security & comfort to see it through.
The reality of a pursuit is that challenges seem constant, you feel disoriented and a little scared of the future. BUT once through that initial threshold you just realise that you’re able to bat away every curve ball that comes at you without really flinching. You’re resilient, ready for anything and know that everything will work out because you can trust yourself to be agile when you need to be. You learn, as I have, how to turn shitty situations that didn’t go to plan in your favour… and most importantly you learn to dance when in the eye of the storm. Once you’re there, there is no turning back. Life becomes an adventure and you understand reward… the type of reward that you have to sweat for, that you earn and ultimately is yours.
I told this, more or less, to my cab driver (although really, saying it out loud is what I needed to hear) and he found a lot of comfort in knowing he was not lazy, but also a little confronted by what it took to get there. If he is looking for what it takes to succeed in life and is willing to talk about it to total strangers, he’ll be one to look out for one day. After all, acknowledging our own limitations is half the battle to getting where we truly want to be… the second half is action. Just (fucking) do it!
Heleana is a force of nature. The founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.