Before I arrived at Rancho Sol y Mar I was told about “the spreadsheet guy” that had everything organized at the ranch. This did not inspire much curiosity in me and I put no effort into meeting him. So I went about my business and met Marshall, a friendly Australian that cracked jokes and did improv and taught Salsa lessons and played guitar. When I saw him one morning with a laptop screen filled with a color coded Excel document, it dawned on me that he was, in fact, “the spreadsheet guy”.
This interview helped me understand Marshall’s story of transformation from corporate IT manager to singing, dancing, horeseback-riding rach-dweller.
I have a couple. One is when there is enough pain, change will come. That’s a saying I really take to. The other is a lot about being present, being in the moment, and remembering the impermanence of things.
What do I need to know about you to understand who you are?
I was not always like I am now.
I was brought up as a Pentacostal Christian, and I was a youth minister and a youth leader. I’d go door knocking and try to convert people, and I was a missionary and all that stuff. I was a very introverted, very scientific logical type-A personality. And then enough pain came, and so I changed.
I was married young, through the church, and worked for twelve years in an IT business. I worked my way up to senior management, and I got to the point where I turned 30 -well, it started when I was 27 or 28 and I ignored it- but questions started rising: “Have I done everything I was supposed to do in my 20s?” “I’m supposed to be an adult aren’t I?”.
I realized: I was married at 22. I’ve got a two story house in the nicest suburb in Adelaide. I have a sports car. Both me and my wife are in management positions. I didn’t want for anything money-wise or posession-wise, but it was empty still. It just felt like I didn’t choose any of it.
It got to the point where I didnt see any way out, no options. I went through a really serious depression and some suicidal thoughts. I had to get therapy. My entire life just broke down. Everybody that I knew, basically, disowned me because my marriage broke down, I got excommunicated from the church, and my ex-wife got a hold of all my friends and told them all to unfriend me on Facebook.
So I’ve kind of gotten to start again! I got to that stage in life (the stage that most people will never change, the lifestyle people will have that until they’re 70 or until they die) and I had the opportunity to just blow that whole thing up, and start from scratch again.
It was like, what would you do if you were 17 again knowing what you know now? And that’s kinda how it feels for me. I still feel like I’m in my 20’s and I’m 38.
I’m just getting to try everything and see who I really am… instead of what I thought society and my parents and my church group and my peers all wanted me to be which I was then dutifully fulfilling.
That’s such a common thing, people going about life in a walking daze. Because people don’t really stop to challenge.. anything. So, challenge everything. Challenge every belief you have. What if this isn’t correct? What if this isn’t how it should be?
Never stop changing, never stop questioning. Be able to consciously think about the things we do all the time. Be present in what you’re doing. I would implore everybody to take a little bit more time… Don’t try to multi task, I did that for many years, and it’s fun, but real enjoyment comes from being still.
My main goal at the moment is mostly to be more… be more me. It’s exploring more than anything else: trying different things, collecting new experiences, finding things that I enjoy, things I don’t enjoy. That’s pretty much it.
It’s like having a restart. Trying different skills, learning new skills, learning new ways of life, new perspectives. I’m looking at everything. everything. That’s why I am here right now. Broadening my mind, meeting new people, learning new skills and having new experiences.
On Rancho Sol y Mar
What the ranch signifies to me is that it’s a work in progress, and that’s the real attraction for me about this place. Another philosophy that I have is “you take the knob of perfection and you turn it all the way down”.
You don’t have to be perfect at everything you do. I definitely used to be a perfectionist, type-A personality, so it’s really nice to just enjoy doing things instead of spending so long trying to perfect something before I even undertake it.