How I changed Moscow for a surfer's village on the edge of the earth


How I changed Moscow for a surfer's village on the edge of the earth
It is hard to believe now but 6,5 years ago I was working in the movie industry in Moscow from 10 to whatever, spent almost 3 hours each day in a traffic going back and forth and every Friday was a blessing. I liked my job, I liked my life and I've never ever dreamt about moving to another country. The only dream I had is to try surfing.
Actually I don't even remember how I got this dream – I never saw surfing in real life, probably just in some movies and pictures in the Internet. See, I grew up in the small suburb town in the Moscow region, my father was working in the military service and mother in the military tribunal. I doubt they knew anything about surfing at all. So I have no idea where it came from but I've been dreaming about it over 2 years before I actually tried it. I had no idea about surfing in Europe, I have never heard about Peniche and everything I knew about Portugal was that Chistiano Ronaldo is from Madeira (not even a continental part). I was planning my first surf trip to Sri Lanka, but when everything was ready to go life has made its adjustments – I couldn't go and my best friend went there without me and learned surfing.
On February 3rd while my friends were surfing on Sri Lanka I posted a picture of a random surfer with description: "While you make someone else dreams come true, someone else makes yours". I remembered it only now while writing that text and it's one of the hooks in that story – remember it, we will come back to that later
My friend was so thrilled so the first thing she said to me when she came back was "We need to go surfing somewhere during the summer!". And as in Asia our summer is not a good season, we started to google "Where to surf during summer?" – Google said "Portugal". Okay, Google, where to surf in Portugal? – "Peniche".

So I started to check everything about this unknown place on the edge of the earth and found out that it's a wave capital of Europe, there takes place one of the competitions of the World Surfing League and it's one of the best places to learn surfing due to the its geological advantages. I found out that there are a lot of surf camps and schools and I was lazy to choose between them so we just bought the tickets, booked a room and planned to decide with the school when we will arrive there. That was 4 months before the trip, I didn't have a vacation for 1,5 year already and I didn't really care where to go – if there I'll learn to surf then it's perfect, that's all I want. The only problem was that I couldn't even imagine how I will do this vacation if I had 2 CEOs that always needed my assistance and as there were no replacement for me I definitely would have to do something during my time off…

And now it's time to say how one morning 1 month before our planned in advance trip I got the news that the company where I successfully worked was decided to terminate. The first day of my vacation was my last day of work so for the first time in my life I went away without checking my work mailbox, solving 99 problems and I'm sure now it was not a coincidence. On the third day in Peniche during the breakfast I caught myself on the thought that I'm resting. I'm actually consciously resting! And it was a totally new feeling for me that I've never experienced in my grown up life. Wow. That's where all magic started to happen.
Peniche turned out to be not at all what we imagined it to be: instead of warm seaside weather and easy going waves we were welcomed with cold north wind and everyday fog in July (!), strong cold waves that hit you every time you enter the water and all sorts of minor troubles. My expectations were completely destroyed. It was totally unlike any place I've been to before – a total exit from the comfort zone. But at the same time, unnoticeable to me, he slowly penetrated into my heart, broke and changed me, washed my head with the ocean water and blew everything out with the wind, forcing me to finally stop and to look around. To look at myself, inside myself and at my life. Something we forget to do in the big cities because we never have time.

No, I've been on vacations before and I've seen how people live in other countries, but I never looked at it from the perspective that I also can live like this. People who live by the ocean live in a completely different way, they have a different philosophy - they do not run after a career and material values, they do not have expensive cars and apartments, but they are happy every day. Just because they know how to appreciate life and enjoy little things. Because why do you need to live in the big city if you are not enjoying every day there? What are your dreams and whose dreams are you working for? That were the questions the ocean asked me.

I had a great job that I really enjoyed, where I had career opportunities. I had an apartment, a car and a cat - everything I needed and it was as it "should be". I played by those big city rules and adapted to this rhythm yet still I felt like a stranger, like a piece from another puzzle. And then I got to the place where I felt so different but so aligned with its vibe so it totally knocked me off. From that moment, changes began to happen in my consciousness, because I finally looked at the world around me, realised myself in it and the truth about myself.
The ocean revealed to me one simple truth: while living in Moscow, I had to play by its rules. There you need a good car, a nice apartment, an expensive hand bag/shoes, etc. (how else can you show your status in this pyramid?), you never have enough clothes, and a glass of Prosecco on Friday is the only thing that can turn your head off from work. And you have to work hard and better in order to earn even more – to buy a cooler car, a more central apartment, more and more expensive clothes and get away for 2 weeks every six months, checking your work mail in a lounge by the sea. And you are such a self-made woman, you are proud of yourself and your achievements, but are you really happy about this? No. After all, you, like a robot, carry out someone's orders every day to achieve other people's goals and dreams. Not yours.

The ocean doesn't want all that crap from you. He doesn't want anything from you at all. It washes away all this dirt from you, wave after wave, leaving you only with what you really are. And now you are wearing the same sweatshirt for 2 weeks and you are comfortable with it because no one here cares what you are wearing. You don't even think about makeup in the morning, because you finally see a normal reflection in the mirror, although in Moscow you didn't even go to the store for a yogurt "without a face". What a wonderful thing the bike is! A room with a bed is all you need, because the ocean is right across the street and you only come home to sleep. A bowl of salad for lunch, and for dinner – a bottle of vinho verde for 3 euros, a piece of cheese and the sun that sets in the ocean.

And you suddenly discover a completely different person instead of "yourself" – the one who played by the rules in Moscow so humbly and silently that I did not even notice her. Suddenly this person straightens her shoulders, raises her head, smiles with all her heart and you finally see her shining eyes. You barely recognise yourself in this person, and you understand that here she is – the real "YOU", and not that made-up version of the Moscow lady. You understand how pointless that whole race is, how pointless all that clothes are, and that there is absolutely no real happiness in that kind of life for you…
… in that moment you sit on the edge of the cliff above endless ocean and you start to cry, when the ocean smirks contentedly and puts another heart that he has opened to his account.
When I came back to Moscow after these 2 weeks by the ocean I needed to get a new job and continue my usual running inside the wheel, but I felt even more lost in this city – I absolutely did not understand what I want to do with my life in general. But I knew that if I will return to the "system" I won't find answers to these questions, that this swamp would drag me back and there would be no way out again. Therefore two weeks later I took tickets back to Lisbon – this time for more than a month since my financial situation and friends in Portugal helped me to do this.

It was an adventure. An attempt to test myself. I had never traveled alone anywhere further than St. Petersburg before. I could not even imagine that one day I will just buy tickets and fly somewhere alone. But this time it was different. This place had me hooked and I needed to know what it all meant. Of course, I had a back up plan that if something will go wrong I could change tickets at any time and return back. But I got off the bus in Peniche and everything fell into place. I was home.

All this month the answers were coming to me naturally, sometimes very unexpected, but I accepted them meekly, because I felt that they were the truth. It was a reboot, a complete change of consciousness and a reassessment of values. I realised that I don't want to be a part of the system "earn more - spend more", that career ambitions are a big illusion, and that it is much more important to embody yourself as a person, not as a robot. It is much more important to be the best version of yourself every day, and not to achieve a promotion at work. It is much more important to be a happy person and make people around you happy.

I don't know what influenced me more – the place, its people, surfing, the ocean, or everything together. I surfed for 4 hours a day, every day feeling more and more confident on the board; I talked with local guys, feeling deeper their way of life; when I needed my own space, I was coming to the cliffs above the ocean and meditated, sitting on the edge, looking to the endless horizon. And not once in 39 days did I have a desire to change my tickets.
Six months later, I packed a suitcase, took my cat and came back here again. This time not as a tourist but with an invitation to work. And this time I only had a one-way ticket. I didn't know how my life would turn out next – Peniche taught me not to think ahead. Two years earlier even in my wildest dreams I did not think about moving from Russia. To be honest, at that time I didn't have a single dream at all. Here I learned to dream, I literally learned to live again, learned to enjoy every day and share it with the world around.

I feel an incredible joy when I see inspired eyes of people who catch waves one by one in my surf camps. I have a thrill when I see burning eyes of people to whom I show amazing places of Portugal, the beauty of which drives them crazy. Emotions and happiness of these people are my greatest reward. This is my answer to the question "Why did I leave Moscow?". I found my way to be happy every day and how to share this happiness with people.
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