11 Sep Inspiring Profiles: Tom Files
Tom Files lives a nomadic life, traveling around the world surfing, and making wine.
I have known Tom since I was 11, and have mentioned him in a previous piece about .
I like to surround myself with people with the type of people who inspire me, and live their lives true to their own values. Tom is definitely one of them having lead a nomadic lifestyle, on his terms, for the last 9 years, following the surf around the world, from California, New Zealand, across Africa and South America.
Tom describes his biggest passion as “Life in General really. My relationships, specifically with my girlfriend, friends, family. Surfing, fishing, hiking – connecting with nature in any such ways. I truly believe that we have all lost a little connection, be to nature, to family to ourselves.
City lifestyles and the ways that we have been forced and chosen to afford such things have led many of us to places that we don’t like and wouldn’t be if we could do things all over again. For many people, like myself we would not choose to live in a built up area, working all the hours of the day just to get by…so why do we? I chose not to.
I really do believe this and therefore am trying to make what I believe into a reality.
I’m the same as everyone else. I am looking for the secret to a happy life. However, I don’t believe that doing the same as other people, just because it is what other people do is a good reason to do it. Everyone needs to find their own path…and to some mine is a little different, not being 9 to 5 and year to year. For me that hasn’t worked out and so far this is doing better. I work, I travel and I try to do things that I have always wanted to.”
Tom left university in 2001, and travelled across the Middle East and Africa for a few years, settling in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa for a while working at a Backpackers hostel to pay for the life of surf and relaxation, before returning to England, primarily to earn money for his next trip.
His life situation led him back to the UK after only three months. He decided to do his PGCE, seeing teaching English as a good way to fund seeing the world. His time in the UK taught him, that he did not want to continue living there.
“I had been in the UK for a year or two and life was not really agreeing with me. I felt bored, a little trapped and realised that I was the only person who could change that. I knew that I wanted to go back to Africa and that I had never been to Sudan, so with a little research I found a teaching program there and pretty soon, I found myself in El Obeid , teaching in a university. Looking back its was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.”
From there he headed back to South Africa, and did some teaching and surf instructing. He used some inheritance money when he hit thirty to fulfill a dream of travelling to South America to surf the longest waves on the planet.
“Whilst there I met my girlfriend and from there we decided to travel to New Zealand and we began to work making wine, and this has now led us to California.”
Working around the world making wine now supplements the lifestyle of surfing and living more in touch with nature, fitting in with Tom’s principles of taking opportunities when they present themselves, trusting his instincts. He elaborates further “Try to dissociate yourself from ‘pretend’ pressures of job security and pensions. If you honestly believe you have a choice, then it comes down to you to make your own decisions. The most common thing I have heard from people who don’t really know me is – I hate my job. I wish I could do something different. – No-one has to try to live someone else’s lifestyle, but if you hate your job…change it. What comes next is your decision.”
“I got to a point in my life where I felt everyone expected things of me, and it led to me being pretty depressed and confused. So I took some time and removed myself from the situations that were causing me distress”
“Now I get to travel. I get to do things that I always wanted to do. I get to see and experience things that help me grow and learn as a person. I tend not to be too concerned with the distractions of pensions, newspapers, fashions, job progression…leaving me time to live more in the moment and concentrate on what I want to achieve.”
The downside is that he doesn’t get to see his family and friends as much as he would like, sometimes missing some important events, but overall he has found a lifestyle that bring him happiness.
His hopes for the futures include “living overseas, surfing, planting some seeds, growing some food, and bringing up a family in a good place.”
His message to others looking to live their lives on their own terms?
“ Ask yourself the hard questions. Face them, if you really believe in a change or want a change or like in my case NEED a change – then you are the only one who has the power to make it happen. Everyone wants different things, whatever they may be. But no one should be made to compromise…everything should be a conscious choice. It’s not easy, life isn’t. However, if you do what you want and you are happy with these choices then to me, you are on the right road.”
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