Following my Passion
“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” Jon Bon Jovi, singer-songwriter
What a precious gift it is to realise that I’ve led an enchanted life. I’ve pursued so many of those ideas that have truly ignited me, indulged a love of travel that has taken me to more than 120 countries and never worked a day in a job that wasn’t of my enthusiastic choosing.
My life has been a printout of so many cherished dreams and aspirations. I’ve been a news reporter, writer and author; worked on conservation projects including one sponsored by National Geographic; helped capture giant reptiles during the Operation Crocodile rescue operation; stood on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro; witnessed the annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti; been filled with awe and wonder while adventuring in Antarctica; driven the world’s fastest road cars and powered a variety of racecars to the chequered flag.
I’ve also been a lover, husband, friend, Dad and doting Grandad. Looking back today, I have few, if any, major regrets.
It was while putting together a talk and slideshow to launch my new book Pilgrim – Taking a really long walk from the head to the heart, that I appreciated that I’ve almost always lived my passion. What a gift to know that I’ve experienced life on a big screen in full colour with the volume turned up.
And yet for many years I berated and beat myself up. I imagined I had betrayed an inner calling to be of service in the world. Instead, I saw myself as indulgent and egotistical. My carbon footprint was massive. I was on an aircraft almost every week. I seemingly drove millions of miles in fast cars or eco-unfriendly Land Cruiser 4x4s. I lived the high life when so many were on the edge: Homeless, starving, leading wretched lives.
But the process of choosing images for my Pilgrim presentation suddenly gifted me with fresh insights. And forgiveness. For myself and my choices.
I was mostly doing the best I could. And anything tackled with unwavering enthusiasm and single-minded focus can’t be all bad. It can even be elevated to an art form. Even something as hedonistic as driving fast cars.
I remembered how I’d had a profound spiritual experience while driving a Ferrari F40 around the company’s racetrack in Italy, where so many grand prix greats had fine-tuned their talents. For me it was hallowed ground and I trained for the day like an athlete. Or a spiritual pilgrim. I’d embraced a healthy zero-alcohol diet, exercised, gone to bed early and saturated my being with life-enhancing excitement, passion and gratitude.
I was the first of my peers and one of the first on the planet to drive that indecently quick Ferrari wondercar. Suddenly it wasn’t just about courage and quick reflexes, as I exploded out of the corners with the tail sliding, tyres smoking and engine bellowing. Something other-worldly happened and my experience shifted up a gear from attempting to drive better and faster than I’d ever managed before, to a deep peace, joy and the sensation of flowing seamlessly and effortlessly down a tunnel. It was a Mozart moment of pure beauty and perfection.
All these years later it has finally dawned on me that my passion for speed taught me many important lessons. About courage, commitment, focus, risk, mortality and never giving up, even when the going got very tough indeed. About being the best I could be. Also, about failures and setbacks and the important lessons they offered.
All these footsteps on the path have brought me to exactly where I am now. And a place of deep gratitude.
I’ve been privileged to meet and learn from so many inspiring people. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, world champion drivers like Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, National Geographic’s explorer-at-large Mike Fay and several spiritual teachers.
One of those teachers is Robert Holden. He not only praised my book but agreed to introduce me during the launch in Findhorn’s Universal Hall in the north of Scotland during September.
I’d been touched by his comment: “Pilgrim is a spiritual travel guide that takes you on an adventure across the world and deep into your own heart. Geoff Dalglish is our tour guide and he takes us on the journey of a lifetime to a destination that is with us every step of the way.”
I said I’d like to use his quote on the cover and his response was immediate. “No, you must use the Desmond Tutu quotation.” I took his advice and gratefully repeated Father Desmond’s encouragement to me when I started walking with climate change messages. “Thank you, Geoff, for reminding us to be reverent and caring for the environment.”
I’m learning how beings like Father Desmond had so much to teach and share about humility and selfless service to others and the wider good. Robert Holden is like that too.
“You have written a great book,” he insisted privately more than once. And here he was enthusing about my writings when he himself is a best-selling Hay House author and globally respected spiritual teacher.
During October I topped up my own inspirations by attending his four-day webinar on Finding Your Higher Purpose and I’ve invested in a copy of his eagerly anticipated book Higher Purpose: How to Find More Inspiration, Meaning, and Purpose in Your Life
I joked that I want to be like Robert when I grow up and that’s true. I admire his relaxed and friendly way of engaging, along with the many wonderful insights he shares so enthusiastically.
I’m also loving the person I’m becoming and letting go of my harsh judgments about myself. Why are we so quick and so brutal in our judgments. It’s a relief to refocus my personal lens and appreciate that, even though my carbon footprint was crushing, I wasn’t deliberately choosing to trash the planet. Quite the opposite, really.
Now I can look in the mirror, hand on my heart, and say: “I love you. And I forgive all the damaging and misguided choices you’ve made. All the times you’ve inflicted hurt and been less than who you choose to be.”
It’s a work in progress and it feels so much more comfortable to embrace all the parts of me, including some that I was previously ashamed of or uncomfortable with.
As I mentioned in my book, I was struck by a bumper sticker with the legend: “Be yourself. There’s nobody better qualified.”
Odyssey's 'Pilgrim at Large'
Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.