During my visit to Canberra last week, I met a wonderful Uber driver. He was from the beautiful country of Bhutan. Had been in Oz for 4 years. Dreamed of a brighter future where he and his wife, and the family they were planning to have one day would be able to call both Bhutan and Australia home. A qualified teacher, he’d travelled to Australia to support his wife whilst she completed her studies. They had fallen in love with Australia and hoped to apply for Permanent Residence one day.
Whilst he loved Australia, he shared with me that it had been tough to make ends meet. Hours were long, Canberra was an expensive place to live in and his wife’s tuition alone consumed much of his Uber earnings.
Sensing he could do with a boost, I assured him that some day in the future, he’d look back at this period of his life with a sense of gratitude and inspiration. When the children he planned to have would inevitably face challenges in their lives, he’d have the wisdom to know that “those too would pass” and be able to be an authentically strong and reassuring presence for them.
I shared with him that 40 years ago, I too had arrived in Australia as an overseas student with very little in my pockets. To help ease the pressure on my parents’ finances, I had taken on several casual jobs during my university days. One that I had hated with a vengeance had been a short stint as a kitchen hand. My salary from that job was a measly $3.50 per hour. I was hopeless at it, which meant I got yelled at a lot. My boss, a fastidious man of Italian heritage seemed paranoid about cockroaches infesting his kitchen though quite frankly, in the few months I’d worked there, I’d not seen one.
I’d scrub the floors at the end of each night, he’d inspect my work, and if he found even what seemed to resemble a crumb on a wet floor, he’d make me clean the entire kitchen all over again. Often that meant working significantly overtime. Not only was I not paid for that, I’d often miss the last bus home. Which meant an expensive taxi ride home that would take my entire earnings for the evening.
Today, I look back at that stint only with pride. I know that the extraordinary life I lead today is a result of that challenging past. That that character building experience and that wonderful Italian man had been just what I’d needed to get me past the sheltered upbringing I had had and to realise that growing up came with its trials and tribulations. That life was meant to be tough with Struggle Street being our path to Fulfilment. I assured him that some day when he had kids, his kids would have many moments where it was just tough, tough, tough. And he’d be able to share with them that their extraordinary life in Australia was possible only BECAUSE of the struggle he was personally going through. And to know that they too, would get past those days and look back with gratitude.
We arrived at my hotel. He thanked me. For reminding him to be grateful for the present. To stay focussed on the dream. And to keep taking positive steps forward each day. With love.
I hope you take heart from this too. Sending you all my love and wishing you the most extraordinary day you deserve!