Having just closed the door on 36 years of full time PAYE employment and opened the one marked ‘self employed’ I find myself responding to my first shareholder meeting. My one shareholder, my wife, made it clear that future business depended on the Director (me, hoorah) having a break. Clearly, and happily, this was on the condition that the only shareholder should accompany the Director.
So it was that the entire staff and shareholders of Alpamayo Coaching Ltd found themselves looking out from their secret mountain hideaway in Las Alpujarras within 48 hours of leaving full time employment behind. The view from the flat roof top is one to quieten any overzealous mind. There is nothing to see apart from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada dropping away from you and the massive northern face of the Contraviesa facing you from across a valley a few kilometres wide. There is nothing to hear apart from donkeys braying and sheep baaing as they are guided around the hillside to find good grazing, their bells clanging to identify their location.
As always on arrival our minds are racing with what has been and what will be. As they are doing so we hear first the noise of hooves on tarmac and then see an elderly Spanish gent on horseback returning from his campo with the day’s catch. We exchange greetings and he smiles his good natured smile that suggests all is well in his world. Shortly after the local herd of around 100 goats and sheep come up the road barely making any noise. The tranquillity of the scene, repeated every day for year upon year, dampens thoughts of change. There is a distinct feeling that maybe things would benefit from staying the way that they are at this moment for a long time to come!
We are realistic enough to know that we would find it difficult to adapt to this mountain way of life. At the same time we benefit from returning to fill up on the benefits it brings to us as regularly as we can manage. Is it selfish to want a remote part of our world to stay the same while being agents of change in other areas of our lives? Perhaps so, yet we will carry on hoping that this landscape and its people stay just as they are.
We are occasional and very lucky beneficiaries from what this wonderful area has to offer and it appears that the ageing community who live here remain comfortable with their lot.
I like to think that places that are sucked up into the VUCA way of being benefit from the knowledge and experience of these unchanged oases of simplicity and humanity. We certainly do. We return to our everyday world changed for the better by experiencing a lifestyle in which both circumstance and choice have made change a member of the supporting cast rather than giving it centre stage.
Photo: © Dr Jeremy Hinks