3 years ago, this is what motivated me to return to Spain to prioritize those I love the most.
I had spent many years traveling, exploring and expanding my mental and work barriers. I moved around so much that I ran out of pages from 2 passports. All of this helped me to feel that my branches were growing and bearing fruit with a global reach, something that my parents have encouraged since I was little.
That desire to grow made me focus my attention outward rather than inward. On what was visible to others rather than what was true to me. However, there were several moments of difficulty and incoherence that made me realize that my roots were weak.
For example, I was concerned about understanding and generating an impact on vulnerable populations, but I was not able to have patience with my parents and explain my path with affection to them. I considered myself an advocate for inclusion with respect for differences, but I was the first to judge my longtime friends for their predictable careers and lives.
I realized that without strong roots, my branches were weak and fruits were bland. That is why I decided to pause and look down at the roots that were the center of my being. This chapter of my life has been of deep inner exploration and personal stretching. Let me share with you my main insights.
In these 3 years I have had the time to rediscover and understand those I love the most, especially my parents. We both agree that family is first, but I realized how I was not prioritizing them in my life decisions. And not only that, I was not letting them be a part of my journey out of fear of judgement, creating a bit of emotional distance between us.
Living with them again, talking about our perceptions of the world, explaining my journey, exposing my vulnerability and sharing silence has made us heal wounds and bring our worlds closer together. We are now more aware of our triggers, and we deal with our differences in a more understanding and playful way. This is something that has taken its process, and has gone through its ups and downs. However, we both feel that these years have counted and we are in a better place to continue walking together. A clear realization for me is relationships are not “fixed” with magic wands. It is over low heat that the real changes take place.
Another key relationship that has benefited from slowing-down has been the one with my partner, Cat. We met when I was living in Thailand, just months before I moved permanently back to my roots in Spain. Our freedom to be able to travel and meet each other helped us to fan our flame and has been one of the main causes of our growth as a couple. In fact, she has been my main teacher on this path. Her ability to mirror me, to help me become aware of my insecurities, and ask myself better questions has been an invaluable source of growth. Having clarity that my goal was to focus on my being has definitely helped our relationship to flourish.
These years have also made me deeply reflect and sit with the question of how to align my being and doing in a coherent way. I was afraid to jump into any project out of the mere need to generate income and continue my career. In fact, one of the greatest fears that I have faced is the one of saying “I do nothing, I have no job,” and being considered a parasite in society. I was afraid of what people would think of me and if this could define my worth as a person. Facing it has made me aware of my own fears and has helped me free myself from the chain that prevented me from looking deeply into someone’s eyes and focusing on their being.
This freedom has given me the space for my curiosity to guide my path, such as taking part in the Acumen Fellowship, and volunteering in projects that made my eyes shine, such as PAZ.ai., supporting refugees with technological talent, or House of Ayni, a leadership program for people fighting sexual abuse.
This chapter of caring about my roots has helped me become more aware of my white male privileges. Born in a middle-class family in Spain, I recognize that if something happens to me, my parents can give me a hand. Knowing it has given me this unique opportunity to stop running on the “doing” wheel, and dive into my “being”.
In fact, these years have helped me see the vital role that my parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, have in history. Their inexhaustible desire to work, progress and provide the best for their children, has gifted us one of the most complete welfare systems the world has ever known. It is easy to attack them on issues related to sustainability, social inclusion or acceptance of diversity, but they grew up in a totally different world. They have done their best, just like their parents did with them.The solution is not that we avoid or blame one another, but that we continue growing and learning together. The more curious and understanding we are with each others´ values, fears, and potential losses, the better we can create systems that are resilient and work for all of us.
This recipe of common understanding for mutual thriving is applicable to any discipline in life. The limitation for implementing it tends to be ourselves. How at peace and rooted are we feeling? Are we able to navigate differences in a curious and caring way? Are we able to prioritize love over ego?
What these 3 years have taught me is to be aware of when I am in my highest self and when I am not, slowly learning how to come back to myself. Time in nature, caring and genuine relationships, deep conversations, sitting with silence, and living simply are some of the nutrients my roots need to gain strength and feed my branches to share sweet fruit with the world.
The best place I have found that connects me with my roots are small rural villages. They hold the heart of diversity, nature and humanity. Every village is different, with its own unique culture and ecosystem. They live in harmony with their environments at a pace that feels more aligned to life. Villagers might not have long corporate experience, but they have crystal clear what is important for them in life. It is in these villages where I’ve met the most values-orientated humans.
This strong need to connect with my roots and nurture them has made me not only spend periods of time in villages, but to start with my partner Ana an initiative called Rooral, which makes it easy for remote workers to move temporarily to a small village in nature.
This is how I met people like Alex and Alfonso, an urban couple from Madrid that dedicates their lives to architecture and social impact. After spending 3 weeks in Rooral, they decided to move to a village in nature outside Madrid. They said this experience has helped them treasure the value of nature, people and community, and has helped them prioritize what is important now in their lives.
Nacho, an entrepreneur that sells Ibearian hams, volunteered in the Permaculture garden of the village. He said this experience made him reconnect with the land and remember the times he used to help his grandpa in his huerto. He has started an urban garden on the rooftop of his apartment in Sevilla.
These are just some examples of how the village is thelping new generations bring attention to our roots and question our lifestyle.
For generations we have been told that to be somebody we had to leave the village and grow branches. This has created an unbalance within all of us, causing at a big scale extreme inequality for humans and the planet. It is time to change our perspective and start taking care of our roots. It is the only way we can offer sweet fruit for those that will come after us.
“While you are worried about bad apples
We’re wary of the roots
Because no healthy tree
naturally bears strange fruit”
Multigenerational hike in the Pyrinees during a Rooral experience