Alternative Lifestyles * Vagabonding Travel * Searching for Hippie Happiness

Midlife Crisis or Awakening

Although this post is about my journey (midlife crisis) I hope anyone who has experienced such a change can take something away from this.

This is me in 2008, about two years before this photo was taken I had returned from a long stint as a teacher in The Gambia, Africa. After a while I felt I needed a holiday, I had always liked the Netherlands and had decided to take myself off to Amsterdam, a place where many years before I had found happiness. Amsterdam was fun and a little bit crazy; like I used to be.

The amazing adventure that I had had in Africa had awoken something in me but I had not recognised its significance until that trip to the Netherlands in 2008 when I was 42 years old. I was lost, unhappy and lonely. I had no partner and I had begun the unconscious defensive behaviour of losing myself in long hours of work rather than facing up to my unhappiness. In Amsterdam I went to nightclubs I had enjoyed when I was younger but once there I felt out of place and isolated. I drunk heavily and instead of enjoying the beautiful historic city felt hungover and rough. I smoked weed and instead of feeling peaceful and enlightened, I felt down and depressed. Amsterdam 2008 began my ‘midlife crises’.

But why do we put ourselves into this box labelled ‘midlife crisis’? What does that even mean? I now know that there was no ‘crisis’ involved because now in 2018, I have never been happier.

For those who have not read my story, here is a link:

what ever happened to mad Mary and the Balloon man

For years after that depressing trip to Amsterdam, I continued my behaviour of working long hours and staying in at weekends. I was living in a rough housing estate at the time, in Camberwell South London and often witnessed gang violence there. Then in 2015, I was given the opportunity to do a house swap with another housing association tenant and I moved to Hampton on the borders of Surrey. It’s quite rural and close to the river. I finally had the opportunity to relax my mind and take stock.


“So, what happened to you?” This is a question I have been asked so many times when people hear about my adventurous past and see photos of my past exploits. I reply “I got old”.

This, of course, is rubbish, I got scared, I got hooked on security and a safe existence, I started living a full stop life.  I did not feel attractive anymore so I stopped dating,  I got fat, “who wants to date a fat old gay man?” and I started buying things I didn’t need and got into debt with credit cards, so I never had any money to travel (or so my mindset told me).

The result of all this was losing myself in work. For years I had been working up to ten hours a day for the NHS. I rarely went out to bars or clubs, although I have a good set of friends who I sometimes went to the theatre with or enjoyed home dinner parties but I didn’t get out there and meet new and exciting people. Often on weekends I would sit at home and get depressed.

But one day last year, I suddenly woke uone-dayll began when I read a life-changing book about travelling the world called:

Book by Rolf Potts
This book made me take a real hard look at myself. It is beautifully written and is not just about long-term travel but about our outlook on life and who we are; it really woke me up.
Then after this breakthrough, I had a strangely spiritual experience. With a strong interest in Eastern religion, I have often meditated, especially when I’m feeling blue. On this one occasion I had had the flu and had been feeling pretty rough, I put some Brian Eno ambient sounds on:
and lay flat on my back and controlled my breathing to relax. Normally my mind was so jumbled with negative thoughts and money worries I could not settle into a full meditative state but on this occasion, I did and felt myself sink into a deep and peaceful place. I felt calm and felt as though I was touched by an energy that said: enough!
My mind felt the clearest it had ever been and I was able to start planning in my mind what I had to do to escape my full-stop life and wake up to something more.
My first priority was to get out of debt, to make a plan to pay off my credit cards in one year; this I have set in motion.
Then there was my work life balance, I am 53 years old for god’s sake, I want my life back. So I have decided to go BANK at work, in the NHS this means to work as a temp worker. I have a skill set as a medical administrator that is needed all over the London and Surrey area and I have now signed on for this; meaning I work the hours I want to work, leaving more time for my projects.
To add to this I have also signed up to learn to ride a motorbike. I can then work as a motorbike courier on the side and this will also serve as a good means of transport when I start my travels.
Then of course there are the travels themselves. Embracing my inner hippie I want to travel to places I can find this spirit as well as experiencing my spiritual side. So, that means places like Thailand, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and so much more.
I hope eventually to spend six months of the year abroad and six months in the UK running my own little business.
I am not blind to the fact that the path is long and there will be hurdles and dips and drops and there is lots to do, but I have to start somewhere; so this is my plan to find Hippie Kushi (Hippie happiness in life).

Hippie Kushi (Happiness)

So why the fascination with hippie culture? I was born in 1965 during the rise of hippie culture in America but as a baby missed all the great events of that period but somehow that interest has always been there. One of my early friends, when I left school, was an interesting guy called Mathew Martiss. He was always the trendy far out one in our group of friends, he loved listening to music artists like Nick Drake and the Doors and he introduced me to the hippie music I so love.

I remember one night in my house share in Brighton sitting with a two-litre bottle of cider watching the three-hour movie of the Woodstock concert; I was smitten. This concert introduced me to Crosby Stills and Nash and Neil Young, I still absolutely love them today. Then came the HAIR movie, a wonderful concoction of hippie music and spirituality against a backdrop of the Vietnam war.

My music collection grew and included groups such as A Loving Spoonful, The Byrd’s, Led Zeppelin, Love and Jefferson Airplane. Later of course I discovered the nightclub Whirl-i-gig, a hippie paradise.

Many of the original hippies followed the hippie trail to Goa in India and remnants of that society are still evident today. I love it and I embrace it, the freedom and lifestyle, the flower power and the music and most of all the love in this age of segregation and hate.

Here is a history of the hippie culture and movement courtesy of Crystallinks.com:




So suddenly your friends, family and work colleagues see a change in you. You start to grow your hair long and your beard takes on a funky form. You start to dress differently and appear to have a new inner peace. For you it’s wonderful, you are becoming who you want to be. You start visiting India, Goa especially and find yourself attracted to Eastern religion; you scream out loud from the middle of a rainbow circle: “I’m happy!!”


But everybody else says: “Oh dear, he’s gone a bit weird, midlife crisis.” colleagues have said to me “you need a haircut, why are you growing your hair?” “you should trim your beard it doesn’t suit you”.


What they really mean is it doesn’t suit them! They hold their own conservative ideas and struggle to recognise this new you. But the most important thing is ‘you’ recognise you, you are happy with this new invigorated person you have become and if you lose friends along the way you will make new ones in the new world (life) you have chosen.


I’m not saying that we should all become hippies of course. Perhaps once you have accepted the change in yourself you have chosen to become a biker, an artist, a writer, a rock star, a traveller or vagabonder, a member of a new age community, a Harre Krishna or even a naturist; don’t let anyone steer you away from the path that makes you happy.

You have woken up to life!! Embrace it, go with it and LIVE!!!

“There is, perhaps, the risk of being loved. Of opening your heart and letting others in. Your expectations of how happy you have any right to be might be threatened when you discover what fun it is to dance barefoot to the sound of a drum”

book about rainbow gatherings

Somewhere under the Rainbow by Tom Thumb  Somewhereundertherainbow.org

The Dream


On the weekend of the Royal wedding, that of Harry and Megan, I had a strange dream.

On Friday night I was very tired, still working long hours to prepare for the transition to temp work which was in process at that time. I was stressed as my landlord had threatened me with eviction if I missed the month’s rent that I would not be able to pay the month of the job change. I had been surprised by the strong reaction to something I thought was manageable.

I slept very well that night and sometime during my slumber the visit happened. First of all, I could see what appeared to be a rocky landscape but then I realised what I was seeing was actually skin, close up. But the skin was blue.

Then as the vision panned out I could make out a smiling blue face, a handsome man with black eyeliner and a red mark in the centre of his forehead, His smile was warm and calming and he was looking straight at me.

“Who are you?” I asked. “I am Vishnu,” he replied. I then said stupidly, “I thought Krishna was the blue one,” he laughed and said “no. that’s me, Vishnu.”

I began to say his name in my mind and then said: “Why are you here?” He raised his hand, the palm flat and facing me, “I am here to watch over you now.” “Why?” I asked, confused.

“Because finally, you are on the right path.”

Then I woke up, not sure if the dream had simply been a consequence of my reading a book about Hinduism recently. But I realised on waking up I felt well rested and clear-headed; the best I had felt in ages. I now knew what I needed to do about my landlord problem and I made a plan.

Later I looked up Vishnu because I was not familiar with this particular Hindu god and sure enough there he was; he is the BLUE one.



The “All-Pervading” One

In Hinduism, Vishnu, whose name means “All-Pervading,” is the protector of the world and the restorer of moral order (dharma). He is peaceful, merciful, and compassionate. To Vaisnavites, Vishnu is the Supreme Lord.

Vishnu is often pictured with his consort, Lakshmi (also called Sri), and usually has four arms. Each hand holds an emblem of his divinity: the conch, discus, club, and lotus. A curl of hair on his chest signifies his immortality, and he wears the jewel Kaustubha around his neck. He is usually depicted with a dark complexion, as are his incarnations. Vishnu is often shown reclining or asleep as he awaits the next annihilation and renewal of the world. {2}

Vishnu is best known through his ten avatars (incarnations), which appear on earth when there is disorder in the world. Rama and Krishna, whose stories are told in the Epics and the Puranas, are the most popular incarnations of Vishnu by far. {3} The ten incarnations of Vishnu are:

    – Matsya (fish) – Kurma (turtle) – Varaha (boar) – Narasimha (man-lion) – Vamana (dwarf) – Parashurama (warrior-priest) – Rama (prince) – Krishna (cow-herd) – Buddha (sage) – Kalki (horseman, who has not yet appeared)
Frankie Moorsays:

Firstly I am sorry to have not been following so closely as I was. Life! Not full stop, but I certainly have been caught in a semi colon just recently!

I know I am repeating myself, but the way you write is refreshing. Natural and honest. (Those are both reasons why I love you! You are natural and honest.).

I Said before that I am living the second half of my life very differently to the first. I have found someone who loves me enough to help me see the bigger and brighter picture. Neither you nor I are living a full stop life any more. I am learning to trust in being brave. I am not as brave as you. Perhaps I was when I was younger. In the mean while I thank you for your blog and your honesty and the questions it evokes in me. Xx


Jo Fay Hi Stephen I can’t find my login for WordPress so was unable to comment on there. Briefly your story resonates with me on many levels. I’m 46 and I feel that midlife crisis a lot recently. I spent my formative years growing up in the London gay scene, working for flamboyant stores like selfridges, I was creative, colourful and very much into alternative lifestyles and counter culture. Years later and many of my friends left the UK, I got caught up in the pressures of surviving in this highly capitalist culture where housing has become such a problem for so many. I grew up in a world of 1970s demonstrations, trade union power, when there was more equality in the Uk and more love and community. Mrs Thatcher destroyed so much of what was good about the UK and so many of us have had to push aside our dreams in order to survive financially. So many people I know have moved or are moving out of London to find new lives as the housing crisis bites. But I am hopeful because there is life outside of the capital and one of the things that I love are the country side and the innocent sense of simplicity that I’ve found in smaller towns outside of London. Like the wonderful colourful people who populated the annual Bedford River Festival.
I’m feeling my age, feeling years feeling as if they are speeding by and trying to rediscover what my values are.

I’ve always been fascinated by the traveller and Hippie worlds. How do people survive in a world that puts material wealth before life?
Seeing the growing numbers of homeless on our streets
I worry about post Brexit Europe and the seemingly unstoppable housing craziness that is London.

Jo Fay I wonder if there will eventually be a backlash from all of us who have had enough and who grew up in the groovy seventies and were touched by the last days of flower power

One Reply to “Midlife Crisis or Awakening”

  • Firstly I am sorry to have not been following so closely as I was. Life! Not full stop, but I certainly have been caught in a semi colon just recently!

    I know I am repeating myself, but the way you write is refreshing. Natural and honest. (Those are both reasons why I love you! You are natural and honest.).

    I Said before that I am living the second half of my life very differently to the first. I have found someone who loves me enough to help me see the bigger and brighter picture. Neither you nor I are living a full stop life any more. I am learning to trust in being brave. I am not as brave as you. Perhaps I was when I was younger. In the mean while I thank you for your blog and your honesty and the questions it evokes in me. Xx

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