At the turn of the millennium I was a self-employed timber artist, making sculptures and furniture from wood I found on the rolling shores of Sussex, England. My work was successful, being shown in galleries and on TV. Life was good, doing something I loved, and practicing T’ai Chi and doing healing in my spare time. I had a loving partner and the road ahead looked bright. Then completely out of the blue, my girlfriend of 5 years said she wanted to be on her own, permanently. My world was thrown into turmoil, the pain I felt was of a deathlike nature – I was utterly distraught. Soon I transformed that energy, channelling it into sculpture. I began to sell even more work, including pieces to the founder of the retail chain, Body Shop, Anita Roddick.
With Anita Roddick and my sculpture Greenman
Then inexplicably my work dried up, my pain had got the better of me. Again I tried to turn this energy into something light and positive, as my stress levels were exceeding what seemed to be a healthy threshold. I wondered what it would be like to do all the things in life I dreamed of. Perhaps travel the world? A crazy thought came to me, why not travel the world, working as a timber artist? If I could do this, why not also work as a T’ai Chi teacher and healer? Wander the earth for as long as possible trading these skills and learning others? That was 12 years ago. I did it, for the best part of a decade. First spending time in Brazil, where I eventually built a treehouse to live in. I travelled in Spain, living in old ruins, teaching and applying my trades. I went to India to buy an old wooden fishing boat to live on, and got tangled up in a tsunami and inevitably helped the distraught with their crisis. I too was distraught and worked out my grief roaming New Zealand for nearly half a year, seeking inspiration from the ancient forests and mountains there, it came and I dowsed out on a map where to go next – it turned out to be Wales, in the UK.
Indian craftsmen helping to prepare my boats
for the sea, just prior to the tsunami of 2004
I began writing about my experiences and selling hand made hardback books about my journeys. Peace came to me, on a major scale, I smiled through life and life smiled through me. By then, I was living in a remote minor’s cottage in the wilderness of Wales, United Kingdom. My days became more frequently filled with joy and quiet moments, until life was a moving meditation to me. I had travelled much, seen many things and learnt how to provide for my self, living off the land and its bounty. All was well, even the most extraordinary step I chose to take next felt like just a walk in the park. I felt that there was really only one thing left in life I would like to do, in the arena of wandering – a calling which rung clearly in my heart, purely through my soul. That was to renounce all of my possessions and set off from my home, never to return. Put everything in order, pay my rent and then set off without a bag or even a destination. Simply trusting in the infinite oneness to show me the way, in which I trusted fully, deciding at the end of each road which way to step. My journey took me onto Latvia, where I volunteered at an orphanage. To Spain, where I helped on an organic farm in exchange for my bed and board. Then to Hungary, where I fell in love and knew the pleasures of soul connections once again.
Me with my limited edition hand made books – ‘The Nomad Tales’ (Sold Out)
When I eventually found myself back in England, nearly a year later, I was homeless. Yet not for long, I was offered a long term house sit, where I began the mammoth task of writing about my escapades again. It seemed that the universe was assisting me. Yet not all was rosy, I noticed I had a real problem with understanding information and that this may well have been one of the reasons why I often sought to travel into the wild, as I seemed to be able to cope with the simplicity I met there far more easily. I struggled with not only the written and spoken word, but also objects, sequences and surroundings, and last year found that I am Dyslexic. It dawned on me that I also often feel ‘punch drunk’, and I began to think about all the times as a teenager that I was bullied and punched in the head until I lay on the ground, wounded. Also of bicycle accidents I had around the same time, striking my skull and becoming unconscious.
The disorientating sensations I face daily made the task of writing up all of my travel notes, a decade of adventures, a rather epic one in itself. As I wrote up my tomes, with publication in mind, I found it much easier to tell my story in 3rd person, as if it were a novel. In fact many of the things I had experienced in life did in fact seem ‘too good to be’, so it suited the work well. It was never going to be a 1st person travel book with photos in. To assist in the writing process, I wrote a pocket book for each of the countries I have lived or worked in. Together the series makes one complete book of all of journeys, called: I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World, and incorporates The Nomad Tales (my original handmade book), and proudly says on the front cover: ‘This book is not based on a true story – it is a true story!’ Now, after several years of full time writing and generally reintegrating back onto the grid, I have independently published fifteen titles and set up a small publishing house called Greenmans Books.
I am so pleased that I followed my intuition to face my demons and look at all of the things that I had so diligently run away from. The experience has grounded me beyond belief and the success of my wok has grown out of that rootedness. The interest in my writing has been extraordinary, my new book has now found its way into high street stores in the UK and I very much look forward to seeing that happen across the United States too. This life shift has taken enormous courage, many sleepless nights but above all, many more days of bliss and wonder. The pinnacle was perhaps daring to ask myself ‘What it was I really wanted in life?’ For me it was time, less stress and more peace. Many people would seek the same, but may in fact take a different route to find this. Timing is everything, it was the right time for me to release several terrific transformations, but you can’t force it, it may not be for everyone. Its is no good being brave, courageous and setting off with nothing, if in fact it is not your destiny to do so! I guess we all strive to know ourselves and try to become in tune with our innate intuition. The restless questlessness of my life arose when I was simply bursting at the seams to learn the ‘art of discerning’, how to read my own inner compass and act accordingly, heal my pain and become the time to shine. Completing a full circle, this summer I have taken on an old woodman’s hut in the English countryside, where I create both with timber and the written word.
My collective tales, in: I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World
Published by Greenmans Books in association with Lulu Press
ISBN: 978-1-4716-9713-5 Available as a paperback and an e-book
More information at: www.greenmansbooks.com
Copyright©2012 A. Greenman