Meant To Be

2013 marktluecke balcony

I’ve always believed in signs. If I hadn’t, then this last month surely would have changed my mind…

It all started with me writing an old buddy in Zurich, asking, “Hey, if you guys ever have an opening in your team, could you let me know?”

Five minutes later, I get an email, “What a coincidence. I just got back from a long vacation, first day back in the office, and we do have an opening right now.”

Two weeks later, I fly over for the interview and get upgraded to business class for the very first time in my life.

The interview day is so positive, it’s almost eerie. Even though I am as nervous as a giddy first grader approaching the school gate for the first time, I feel comfortable with everyone. The office is located in my favorite part of town and from the meeting room I’m put in for a whole series of interviews, I can see Zurich’s Uetliberg on which I used to spend many happy hours.

Upon returning to Malta, strange things happen. The next day, early morning, I decide to stop being lazy and take the stairs in our apartment building for the first time in weeks. Three floors down, I find a trapped dove. On the fourth attempt of throwing my sweater over it, I finally succeed. I manage to pin the delicate bird securely between my hands, walk down six more floors and upon reaching the street raise the sweater high above my head. I open it up towards the sky. The dove sits there for a long moment, stunned, then takes off soaring into freedom. Being overly romantic by nature, I can’t help but wonder, “Does this mean we’ll soon be flying to a new life, too?”

Two weeks pass without a word. Waiting patiently for big decisions has never been my greatest strength. But just as I begin to doubt, I get the new monthly shift plan for my job here in Malta. The team leader coordinating it for our team is very conscientious and never forgets anything. Curiously, this month he has forgotten two entire weeks on my plan. According to this, I don’t work here anymore from end of June. “Is this another sign?”, I wonder.

The weeks seem to pass in slower-than-slow motion. My inbox refresh-button would have sores on it by now if it were a living being.

Then my wife and I travel to her sister’s wedding in Korea where we have wireless everywhere and spend too much of our time continuing to refresh that inbox.

A week later, still waiting, we travel back to Malta via Paris and Amsterdam. In Amsterdam we have a long layover and spend the night in a hotel room. After seventeen hours of traveling, we collapse on our hotel bed and fall asleep instantly. The next morning as we relax on the bed, I notice a nice painting on the wall across from our bed. “That’s a great watercolor of Amsterdam,” I think. Then, “Wait a minute, that’s not Amsterdam!” Sitting up straight on the bed, eyes wide in wonder, my wife and I realize that we have booked the one hotel room out of a thousand in this huge hotel, sporting a watercolor painting of Zurich. We look at each other with goofy smiles on our faces, sensing something like magic in the room.

Five days later, I get the long-awaited email. Such a little thing… a click on a button, a small link on the screen, a few lines of text… but in the end this little thing can determine the course of a life. It can make all the difference.

Scared out of my wits at first, I finally open the email with closed eyes. When I squint a little, I see, “It is my pleasure to inform you…” and breathe out with a long sigh. Minutes later when the first shock has worn off, both my wife and I whoop with joy.

So, after ten years of living abroad, I’ll be coming home. Better yet, I’ll be coming home with my soul mate, and I’ll be able to work in a profession I enjoy. I’ll be having lunch breaks in Zurich’s Niederdorf, at the River Limmat, one of the places in this world that has always enchanted me.

I am so grateful life is leading us in this direction. And, I am sure, with every happy fibre of my heart: This is meant to be.

It is so ordered.

2015 old couple getting married

“The first gay couple was just married in Dallas today. An 82 yr old and an 85 yr old man finally got to be recognized as legally married in the city they call home. The world just became a little bit brighter in our corner of North Texas.”

As I read through my various online newsfeeds, tears of joy keep welling up. I smile, laugh out loud, and rejoice in this positive humanitarian milestone. I bow my head in respect to the US Supreme Court. Well done. Here is to love, humanity, freedom, equality, and mutual respect!
There will be outrage from some sides, I’m sure, but no matter what will happen, one fact will remain: we have caught a rare glimpse of humanity at its best.
Halfway across the globe in Malta we can feel the Earth shaking as rainbows light up our lives and even the Mediterranean sun is celebrating, glowing brighter and warmer than ever before.

Behind the Scenes

Beautiful backstage video of the show I dedicated four years of my life to. I was just one little cog in the giant mechanism of this masterpiece, staying with it as an underwater coach and show diver from training and formation through creation through to operation. I ended up working more than one thousand shows behind the scenes and trained most of the artists between 2009 and 2012 for their underwater exits and entries.
During creation, our director used to say “let’s shake the stage.” And we did, twice every day. Shaking not just the physical stage of our theater but also the individual stages of our lives, growing far beyond our years while performing at our utmost best every single day. Living in this show family was heaven and hell, Jekyll and Hyde and all shades in between. Life’s learning curve has never been steeper.

Thank you Mr. King

one with the wave

I read something this morning that lifted my spirits, a quote by Stephen King: “The only mortal sin is giving up.”
Thank you Mr. King, I needed this today.
The last four weeks have been hard. I am waiting for a decision. It’s nothing earth-shattering. I applied for a job. Still, a “yes” will be life-changing. It will mean to be able to move back home, be amongst my most trusted friends and family, and do something I like doing (whilst also having enough time, energy, and money to continue with publishing my book).
As I wait, all seems to come to a standstill. I can’t help but be obsessively focused on the question of what the answer will be. Time seems to stretch and everything seems to slow down to a crawl slower than that of a tortoise on diazepam.
Of course, I am aware that life will continue and our planet will still rotate no matter what will happen.
So I breathe, do gardening, read, cuddle my cats, and gaze into the eyes of the woman I love. As the weeks pass and my sense of insecurity grows, I remind myself that I am worthy. I have done all I could, shown an immense amount of motivation and dedication. All else is out of my hands.
Some years ago, when equally important decisions loomed, I painted myself, standing firm, enveloped by huge waves crashing all around me. That time has come again: to stand firm, believe in myself and have faith in the ways of the world.

‘The Fortunate Nomad’ becomes ‘Paralian’

2005 liam on the beach

Writing my first book was an intensive experience and finding a publisher proves to be quite challenging as well. However, the hardest part so far was finding the right title.

Now, we found it: “The Fortunate Nomad” will henceforth be “Paralian.”

Paralian – it is a word from the greek language, meaning “one who lives by the sea.”

Paralian… Paralian… roll it around your tongue for a while like a well-aged wine, and my book’s new title will fill your mind the same way a good bottle of Bordeaux would flow through your stomach – velvety and strong.

I have always lived by the water and it has given me positive energy when all else seemed to fail. Paralian brings a depth of meaning far greater than my working title “The Fortunate Nomad”. Paralian brings us from associations of the desert to the water and its mysterious, invigorating, myriad shades of turquoise and blue. Someone living by the sea is associated with battling forces far stronger than himself, being a lover of nature, a free spirit, a survivor, a thinker, and a philosopher.

“Paralian” it is my friends. It fits.

Please be aware that as of today all social media sites for my book, as well as all other mentions of it anywhere, will change to the new title!

To sail or not to sail …

1972 monrepos august

Maybe this little sailor will soon be homeward bound. Or maybe not. Everything else pales at the moment while awaiting possibly life-changing decisions. One thing’s for sure though, I am truly ready to sail on home, my amazing wife and cats in tow.

Searching far and wide…

2004 liam at ETH terrace in ZH

The last few days, well actually the last few years, I have thought a lot about the meaning of home.

Many years ago a good friend moved to Africa, then Paris and then back to Zurich. I remember asking him curiously, “Why did you move back? Why didn’t you stay out there and explore more?”
And he said, “It was great for a while, but all my family and friends are here. They are what matters most. So I will keep seeing as much of the world as I can. But my home base will always be Zurich.”
I didn’t understand him at the time. In 2004, when this photo was taken, I had already lived thirteen years in Zurich. It had become a true home. I was happy. Yet, I was restless and could feel my blood stirring. I kept wondering, “Can this be all? There is so much else out there for me to explore.”

Then, starting from October 2005, explore I did. Over the next few years I lived and worked in the Maldives, Belgium, Macau, Canada, Hong Kong, and Malta. I travelled all over Asia and Europe, through some of Africa and North America. All the while looking for home, but never finding it.

Living in Malta now, I can appreciate the kindness of its people. I can savour the scents and sights of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. But as I have done so many times over the last ten years, I can feel my thoughts returning to Zurich…

Every year since I left, I traveled back to the charming Swiss metropolis at least once. Each time it felt like an old comfortable shoe which slipped back onto my feet so very comfortably. I walked along the lake, sipped latte macchiato with old friends, went to the open air cinema, the vibrant Niederdorf, rode around in trams, and took in the sights along the river Limmat. My heart beat faster, emotion seemed to overwhelm me, and I had tears in my eyes many times over.

It took writing my memoirs and looking at my own life story in its entirety though, for me to truly learn and understand. It took showing my wife my beloved Swiss haven, and her telling me, “Liam, this place is so inspiring. And you can’t seem to shut up ever since we’re here. Your eyes sparkle. I haven’t seen you so happy in a long time.”

Is this what is called coming full circle? I think I understand now. Searching far away was necessary for me to learn, grow and begin to know myself. It was essential to truly come to appreciate what had been there for me all along.

Zurich, with all my friends and family whom I love and care for is my home and always will be, no matter where I go. In many ways, it is time to come home. This time not alone, but with a wonderful partner in life. Knowing this, I can feel something deep within me finally settling into a state of contentment. W.B. Pitkin said, “Life begins at forty.” Maybe, in a very profound way, for me it truly does.