Waking Up in the Post Office

No, it’s not the morning after a wild night out, but the first step on the journey to a laptop lifestyle

Something came into my head today that I haven’t thought about for many years. When I tell you what happened, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the most simple and meaningless of interactions. It was, however, a pivotal conversation in my life that opened me up to a new understanding and a world of possibilities.

Let me set the scene

It’s Autumn 2001, and I’m working for a private language consultancy firm in a small village in the west of Ireland. It’s a beautiful time of year, the long grasses in the bog changing colour from green to rust and the sky at sunset like a living, ever-changing canvas.

I’ve already gone through the process of making a major decision that I’m going to leave my job so that I can travel for 3 months. I want to attend a meditation retreat with a spiritual teacher who has something extremely precious to offer. I base this on his books, guided meditations on cassette, and conversations with students of his – but most of all on a tiny, barely audible, voice inside that says I should go.

So here I am in the local post office, sending off my application for a passport. The lady who’s serving me is really friendly and eager to know where I’m off to. She’s over the moon for me when I tell her about my plans to go to India. I’m feeling buoyant and encouraged by the positive noises she’s making – as you can imagine, some doubt has been cast upon my plans to leave a perfectly decent job to go off into unknown territory.

“Enjoy every minute of it!” she says, beaming at me. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!”


That’s the sound my mood made as it plummeted like a stone into my boots.

My face went all prickly and red as indignation rose to the surface. ‘Once in a lifetime? Only once?’ I was thinking to myself. ‘I don’t think so! I can make as many of these trips as I like. The world is my oyster!’

As if a floodlight had been suddenly switched on, I realised how limited I had been in my thinking up until then. At the age of 26, something had already numbed itself to the prospect of a life that would look something like this: working at a few different jobs over the next 40 years or so (they may even be interesting), taking a couple of holidays every year (with the odd longer trip away), retire, old age, and then off.

A seemingly innocent interaction with a cashier at the post office turned out to be a turning point, a major wake-up call.

Our wake-up call can come in the most mundane of places.

It got me in tune with something deeper inside that wanted more than just one last hurrah around the sub-continent only to crawl back in its box labeled “employee until pension age”.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Krishna Cottage in a tiny village in the Himalayas. I’m looking out at the pine forests in the valley, the tips of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas in the distance covered with cloud. And I look back fondly on my forgotten memory.

The view of the Himalayas from just above Krishna Cottage.

I’m glad I got riled by the friendly post mistress’s ‘once in a lifteime’ remark. Just the spark I needed to ignite the fuel of passion inside.

What’s happened since the post office encounter in 2001?

As well as a good few mosquito bites, I got bitten by the bug – India got under my skin, and my spiritual journey continues.  My working life is designed to fit around the retreat schedule. Although I have worked a few different jobs on short term contracts (some of them really interesting, some less so), I have mostly been living the laptop lifestyle. I’ve been back to India about 10 more times.

I’ve worked mostly as a freelance translator, but I’ve joined the profession of digital marketing because I want to have residual income while I’m doing my meditation retreats. That’s my big ‘why’ in life, but we all have different things that drive us. More than any other time in history, because of the power of the internet, we can design our work around our lives, and not the other way around.

Satya Gillen, Digital Life Coach




As a Digital Life Coach, Satya Gillen helps people who want to make the once in a lifetime opportunities everyday, run of the mill, normal stuff. She is committed to helping you develop all the skills you need to profit from your online presence and build an online business you can run from anywhere your life takes you. 

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