Because, I had never even entertained the thought that I might be chosen for this role, I hadn't actually tried to formulate a plan of action. Since my illness had started at the age of 18, the only time I had been abroad, was to go on holiday with my family. Except for my trip to Japan, in 2014, to see my partner, I had always been surrounded by a support network. If I decided to accept this job, I would essentially be on my own in a country, where I didn't speak the language or know anyone.
On the other hand, the opportunity of living independently felt strangely appealing. And, then there was the salary. I was quickly able to calculate that I could earn more money in 3 months, doing this job, than it would take me to earn in a year, working as a freelancer. This was partly because I never charged enough to my private clients and many of them never actually paid me.
But the biggest issue that was stopping me from phoning my agent and telling him, I would go ahead, was the state of my health. It had taken me years to stabilise my mind & body. I had gradually worked out a routine that allowed me to work and stay well, simultaneously. It consisted of a mix of yoga, walking, a mainly vegan diet and a good helping of mindfulness, each day. My work was interspersed between these activities. This schedule had allowed me to live a relatively pain free existence for nearly a decade. Did I really want to go and throw myself into a potentially destabilising situation, just for the sake of a fantasy that might never materialise. But, the question of money kept reverberating around my mind.
I decided to approach this conundrum with some mindfulness. I would try and let my thoughts flow through my mind and see where this psychological stream took me. Rather than trying to force answers to questions, I needed to take a more organic view. Sometimes solutions can emerge, from removing obstacles in the mind.
By the end of the day, I had decided that I would take the job. Even if everything went wrong, it would still be an experience. After all, this was not a prison sentence. If I wanted to leave, I could just terminate my contract with a month's notice. As I saw it, this would be like going on a paid holiday. I realised the work would be hard, but I could explore the area at the weekend.
Within a month of phoning my agent, I had rented a flat on a side street off Las Ramblas, booked my flight and made all the necessary preparations for a life abroad. To be honest, as the leaving date approached, excitement & the fear of the unknown, had built up, in equal measure. But my focus and determination to carry through with my decision, remained resolute. I wondered whether those about to engage in battle had a similar mix of emotions? So, OK, I wasn't about to lay down my life, but with my health balancing on a knife edge, you could certainly draw some parallels.
As I write this story, I am looking back on the event, some six months later. Within this time, some wonderful & awful things happened, in Barcelona. But the experience, I had, will remain with me, forever. Isn't this really what life is about? To be on the edge of either emotional extremity.
As I waited for my plane to arrive at Gatwick on August 27th, 2018, little did I realise, I was about to experience one of the most challenging periods of my life.