About 15 years ago, I worked in a large pharma firm in Rome. It was a fascinating professional period of my life, with many activities and responsibilities. I had a managerial role and enough freedom to organize my time, travels, customer visits, etc.
Unfortunately, in the same period, I had some personal problems. It was nothing serious, but the result was like living in Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hide’s lives. My mood was constantly negatively affected by a crush that wasn’t evolving as I wanted, and I couldn’t consider myself as personally and professionally wholly fulfilled.
Of course, I couldn’t forget my delusions while at work, but strangely, I succeeded in avoiding conflicts or negative impacts. In the past, similar situations were much more annoying because I couldn’t stop thinking and focus on my work. But, in that case, everything went relatively well because I was pretty satisfied with my job.
As I was part of an international team, and I used to meet my peers periodically in different cities, I eagerly awaited the communication of the next destination.
I was surprised when I read the email and discovered two meetings had been joined. There was also a more extended meeting in Singapore, and our American boss decided to organize our restricted meeting a few days before at a nearby location.
I had no idea about the place: Bintan, Indonesia. However, I saw the pictures of the venue, which was a typical tropical resort, and immediately called the travel agency to book my tickets.
I still remember the moment when I boarded the Boing 747 in Rome. It was like passing through a magic gate. I forgot everything immediately and started thinking about the trip.
Once in Singapore, I took a taxi to the Tanah Merah ferry terminal, and in about an hour in first class, I arrived at this green island with a temperature of at least 38 degrees Celsius (I left Rome in February with a maximum of 10 degrees).
A welcome service had been organized, and I was driven to the resort with a flower necklace and a smiling local guy explaining all the benefits included in my booking.
The day after was the first day of the meeting, and the first thing I did was fall asleep because of the jetlag. In the afternoon, I walked around, visiting a small zoo, a fantastic swimming pool, and a spot where it was possible to see the beach and a sea flat like in a painting.
I forgot all my problems and started thinking about what I had to discuss during the meeting. At night, other people arrived: my boss with her manager and a couple of my peers.
We had a relaxing discussion while sipping a few cocktails, and, at the end, we went to bed after having set the starting time for the morning after.
The next day, the entire team was gathered in the hall, and my boss arrived in shorts and without any bag or laptop. We all looked at her, waiting to know where the meeting room was, but she smiled and said: “There’s no meeting, you were fantastic in the last year and this is a prize!“
I couldn’t believe it! We had a complete package with all the benefits and some guided tours in a forest and a typical Indonesian village.
I can’t write down everything that happened during those few days of the trip. Still, it’s enough to say I was so happy and far away from my everyday routine that I enjoyed every moment of the journey and forgot my delusions.
I still remember that trip as my best one. Not because I haven’t visited other beautiful places but rather because it was like a cathartic process, an inner transformation that impacted my psyche more than any other thing.
I never returned there, and now I don’t know if it would work like the first time. However, this memory lives in me, and I learned that escaping any mental trap is possible. Not necessarily with a trip, but it’s possible, and the effects may be stronger than expected.