Hope This Finds Me Well

Marlo: Loving and Failing Real Hard

Episode Notes

Change the world sir, and love like crazy: Marlo, a public speaker in Barbados, writes to his future self off the back of a breakup and on the brink of another big move. Hosts Steph, Sophie and Maria discuss what ‘home’ really means, hear Marlo’s philosophy on expectation-free-dating, how to make friends as an adult, and why he went for coffee with a racist.  Marlo reflects on painful experiences, and how he uses failure to learn, and try again.

Have a story about writing a letter to yourself or a loved one? We want to hear it at hello@editaud.io.

Thanks to Matt for creating FutureMe and collaborating with us on this show by helping letter-writers opt-in to be interviewed.

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Episode Transcription

Steph Colbourn This episode contains personal experiences of racism, specifically anti-black racism in the US and UK. [theme music plays] 

Marlo The thing about meeting friends is that I realised that I'm just Marlo. And there are things about me that are terrible, and things that are great, but I'm just me, I’m just okay being told no, I'm okay being laughed at. So now if I'm in Norway, you know, I see someone having a drink. I'm like, hey, have a drink with you? And if they say no, so be it. What did I lose? I will never see them again. [intro music fades in]

SC This is Hope This Finds Me Well, a podcast about the past and future versions of ourselves and what we want to tell them. I’m Steph, and my co-hosts are Maria and Sophie.

Maria Passingham Hi!

Sophie Shin Hello!

SC Together we talk to people who have written messages to themselves and scheduled them to arrive in the future. Sometimes they’re joyful, sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re just reminders of goals or ambition, but we want to know what’s between the lines of the letter. Last time we spoke to Bella from Utah, who shared so much about her life, from the new instrument she was learning, to her political opinions, and what it was like to graduate in a year where in-person graduations looked a little different. Today we’re talking to someone else who found their plans pretty disrupted by the pandemic, but rather than a school event in a neighbourhood, this one has global ramifications. Before we get to the letter though, I want to check in with Sophie and Maria! How's it going?

MP Hey! Good!

SS Good!

MP I'm glad to be back.

SC I am really excited about this episode, because I loved speaking to Marlo. And I feel like I mean, I think the thing about Marlo, like I came away from the episode being like, I feel like Marlo and I have so much in common and like, we really like share a lot of experiences and blah, blah, blah. And then I was like, I think everyone feels that way about Marlo?

MP Right. And that's probably what makes him such a good public speaker, because you know, he can kind of tell his life story, or probably say anything, honestly. And people would be like, "yeah!" [Maria laughs]

SC Like one thing that still sticks out to me is this idea of traveling all over and sort of trying to find this sense of home or a place to call home. I mean, I know because of COVID we're all kind of like living weird home life situations. But I guess I just wanted to know, like, does the place that you live in now feel like home to you?

MP Mmm mm. I'm currently speaking to you from my childhood home, like this place where I spent the majority of my life I guess.

SC Doing some quick math there, you're like, how old am I? How many years have I lived her? [Sophie laughs]

MP Literally, yeah, the numbers are flashing before me, I was like, well hang on, if I moved out when I was--yeah--it's like just, just over half my life. So it kind of in a way it does feel very homey. Like just this morning, it was a really cold morning and there's kind of woods at the bottom of the garden and the light, the winter light coming through those like really naked trees just reminded me of getting up for school really early every day. 

SC Wow!

MP And it was a really weird nostalgic feeling even though I was currently living it. So in a sense, it's very much home but I also don't think this is my home at all anymore. I mean, I temporarily am back here with my parents, but my home in Manchester is absolutely my home now. And I miss it. 

SC Did your parents leave you a bedroom in their home? 

MP Yeah, absolutely as I left it. [Steph laughs] And my sister's has totally been changed. It's a spare room that's been done like twice since she moved out and mine is like a shrine.

SC Ohhhh, who's the favourite?

SS I was gonna say, that screams favorite to me. I lived with my grandma for a little bit. And I had a Sailor Moon poster like right above my bed and I can still picture it, because I like I remember like writing my name on it for some reason when I was really young, and she left that poster up for like years after.

SC Which Sailor Moon character were you?

SS Sailor Moon.

SC Oh, I was always Jupiter. [Maria & Sophie laugh]

SC That's fair. That's fair. 

SC Honestly, I still feel like I am kind of Jupiter like I always wear green I have like long brown hair.

SS We should do a test.

MP As a British person I have no idea what you're talking about.

SC What!

SS You don't know Sailor Moon? Did that not make its way to the UK?

MP Apparently not. [Maria laughs]

SC Oh my goodness!

SS Ohhh, Maria, we've got some schooling to do!

SC I have like heart palpitations. I'm so, I'm like so excited for you.

MP There's probably people all over the UK going, "Oh, she's just an anomaly. I know what it is."

SS Well it's not even American, like it's been Americanized, but it's like a Japanese anime show that came over to the western part of the world. 

MP Oh, so you would've thought, it would be everywhere.

SS Yeah, that was my grandma's home, which honestly, feels like home as well. What I was gonna say is that I feel like there's a physical feeling of being home and then an emotional feeling of being home. And I do feel both of those things where I am right now in Toronto, like I I feel like I know Toronto like the back of my hand at this point. My family, a lot of my family lives in Toronto, and I love my actual apartment like it feels homey to me, but then I also sometimes just want to leave. So I don't know if like home is necessarily a place that you want to stay? Which I find interesting.

SC Did you have like one house kind of thing or two houses when you were a kid or did you move a lot?

SS Yeah, I moved in a couple different places in the like Greater Toronto Area, in like the suburbs of Toronto, but I never felt any emotional connection to the actual houses themselves. Like when my parents decided to move back to like a condo in like Toronto proper, like, I didn't give a shit. I was like, bye house, I don't care. The thing that keeps me in Toronto for so long is the fact that my parents are here, you know, and like, my family is here. So like, yeah, it's just interesting how, how you can you can feel at home, but also maybe want to leave a little bit.

SC Yeah, I feel like I'm like incapable of feeling home, actually, this week, like totally unrelated to this conversation. But now I'm like, realizing how well it fits. I was talking to my dad and I was like, I can't remember how this came up. And I was like, Oh, yeah, you know, I moved around a lot as a kid, blah, blah, blah. And he was like, yeah, you know, that's something that I'm like, really sorry about now.

SS Aww!

MP Aww!

SC And I was like, Oh, my God, what, why? Like, I never thought about it as a negative thing. And he's like, I don't know. I just feel like it must have been like, really, like unsettling for you and your sister. And I was like, I mean, I made a joke about I said, Well, I'm a great packer. [Maria & Steph laugh] Which is true. I'm like, amazing at packing. I can pack a suitcase for like a month in like, 10 minutes. 

MP That is a good skill!

SC Yeah, I've never, like I moved--I think my sister and I both counted one year and we both had lived in more than 20 places.

SS Holy shit!

SC I never felt like one house or like one parent or one city was like meaningful. Anyways, I think that like in the way that I don't really know how to think about home, Marlo has like a different perspective on it. And it's, it's why I found his letter to be so interesting, or one of the reasons why I found his letter was so interesting. Also, he's a public speaker with a background in social work. And he was back in Barbados when we spoke to him, but he's actually lived like all over the world, which you'll hear about. So we started talking to Marlo about his love life and his career, but pretty quickly our conversation became about the idea of home. So let's meet him and hear what he has to say.

Marlo I'm Marlo from Barbados. I will read my letter to you the best I can. It was written on August 19 2015. "Dear FutureMe, Hey Marlo you are currently in O'hare airport waiting to go to Barbados. The Cubs lost last night and you stayed at Jamel's families house. You have no debt and you are learning to relax. I am proud of 27 year old Marlo. You are currently thinking that whoever you will date in the future is out in the world getting her own experiences so you can share adventures. You have no idea where she is in the world but you look forward to meeting her. If you are single it is okay and continue to be patient. If you have found her.... Go out and buy her some flowers and show her this message. " Dear lady 32 year old Marlo is currently with, It's very nice to meet you. I have been very excited about who you will be and where you will come from and how we would communicate together. Right now 27 year old Marlo is looking for you and his heart is very excited for the day we will meet. Listen to the songs "Love Like Crazy, Kiss You In The Morning and Friday Night with Marlo please. Also have him sing" You Are My Sunshine" to you if he doesn't already. Now Marlo. Live my friend. I hope you are still living and loving and experiencing life. Again I'm proud of you. Change the world sir and love like crazy. Love every minute of every day."

SS Wow. Alright, so many questions. I think the first obvious question is did you find… did you find the lady that you were writing to?

Marlo Currently at time of recording, there is no lady.

SS That’s ok.

Marlo The biggest reason is that you know, I lived in America, I lived in Iowa at the time of writing. I was going to Barbados, and I started living a more nomadic life, kind of moving around and you meet many people and I say that you meet people for a reason and a season, and a season isn't always forever, but you must always enjoy and understand the reason. And you know I've lived in Iowa for a long time, then Barbados and then I went to 13 countries in Europe and then England for six months and then the ‘rona happened and so back to Barbados again. I will say that there is a lady that I'm having a virtual date with today, we met, we met late last year. She was my first kiss at New Years and then you know, January was very rough so we both grew apart kinda, and then as the year went on we started talking more and more and she actually purchased a ticket a few weeks ago to come to Barbados in December to see me so we're having our official second first date this evening. You know get dressed up and make dinner and watch movies and play games on house party so there is potential there ladies! 

SS I love that! Personally, I would love my first date to be in Barbados! That sounds like the dream.

SC I will say December is a great time to leave England and go to Barbados, in general, so there's the added benefit of weather...

Marlo I appreciate Barbados a lot more after six months in the London area. I like the sun, so so yeah, so that's the situation. I was, you know, there have been a couple ladies along the way but when I move or they would move, you know, we in our current life it’s very transient at the moment with how people in our generation move around and the options we have.

SS Yeah, I also feel like it's hard to date these days, if you're someone who travels a lot, because I feel like we've just, as maybe as a generation, millennials have just kind of like realised that it's better to do things for yourself than to only think about your relationship, you know, because then people sometimes get stuck in relationships and end up resenting the opportunities... or resenting the person for not having the opportunity to go and travel and stuff.

Marlo And even sometimes when I'm dating, we know it won't go forever, we know it's only for a season. And we… and we get that out right away is like, hey, like I'm here for three months, and we can hang out for three months and tour, and I've had some beautiful experiences with that kind of not holding on to an outcome, but just kind of flowing with the process. And you know, I’ve learned the hardest lessons sometimes when those do end. Like when I chose to leave Iowa, I was dating someone. And my nephew, you know, I left when he was three. So he knew me in theory. And he was like Marlo, like, you come home for a week at a time, and you break my heart, whenever you leave, like you come here for a week, we have a good time, and then you just leave for a year. And I was like, you know what, there is a point where you realise that travel and money and all this are nice, but if your own family…. they love you, but they may not like you,  because you aren't really there. So that's when I chose to go home to kind of reconnect with my family,

MP Ok so Marlo is in Barbados now but was in Iowa when he wrote this letter. 

SC Maybe we should just double back and let him explain why he was there at the time. What was he doing there? How did he end up there in the first place?

Marlo When I was seven years old, I remember I saw a world map, I saw my island and it was a on the map and I asked a teacher, you know, where's... what was all about around it? She was like that's the world. And I was like, are you kidding me right now? Like I live on this dot? So then my whole kind of life goal was to travel and kind of get off of Barbados. Rianna was in my class, and when she got famous, we were all like, wait a minute, is that Robyn? And we were like, yeah, that's Robyn. We were like well, if she can do it, I can do it. So around 17 my thing was how do I leave Barbados? And I was like, well, it's grades or singing or sport. My grades weren't great, I sing like a Barbadian Tom Jones. So I actually started playing rugby internationally for Barbados. I started travelling through rugby, and then that took me to Iowa, to be a camp counsellor for a summer. And long story short, when I got my degree, I sold all I had, flew to Iowa, went to the CEO’s office and told them I want to work for you. And I’ll volunteer for a month, and at the end of that month I’ll be so good, you'll find the money to hire me. And he hired me a year later. So then I spent seven years in Iowa, came back to Barbados to be an uncle. After a while moved to Europe to craft my TED Talks, I gave those TED talks in February and March, and then I came back to Barbados, and I’ve been uncling ever since. 

SS I mean, I, I wanna like learn everything about you. But also we have this amazing letter that you wrote. And also Rihanna is just like someone who was in your life, like...

SC I know as if you just name-dropped Rihanna as her first name, her given birth name.

Marlo Well it all ties together. So I first left to go to Iowa in 2009. And since then, I never really felt like I had a home because I was there for a year and a half on an internship visa. But then I ended up getting a three year work visa after that, but I knew I wouldn't stay in Iowa. I knew my purpose right now was to be here and embrace travelling America, I'm building this programme, and kind of repaying the faith that this company had in me. But then when it came about to Barbados to be with my nephew, I came back in October of 2018 I knew that this wasn't it either. So I was there to be an uncle. And my nephew. I came back on his 10th birthday. I surprised him. I surprised him at school. And I told them, I told them that I'm staying for a while this time, I'm staying for three to six months. And you know, we had a great time. Every weekend we went out, we did Pokemon Go and played football slash soccer. But the thing was, is that it was he was growing right? And for Christmas that year, he got a Nintendo Switch. And things quickly changed from let's go play soccer to come over and play Switch with me. And then I wasn't very good, so he was looking over and watch me play on the switch. So but I got the last two months of like, prime uncle time with him. And then when that kind of subsided I told him in January after three months, I was like, hey, are you okay if I leave again? He was like, yeah, you can go I understand you got to go work. But just come back to watch Avengers Endgame with me. I that was in April.

SS This kid sounds so cool!

Marlo He is the coolest. But then, you know, in February, I went to my dad, I was like, Dad, like, I don't feel right. He was like, Marlo, here's the thing. Like, I've seen your speeches. And my mom and dad, they saw what I do and all that. And they were like, we had no idea you could do this, you need to go and keep doing it. So we love you. I want to stay here. But you can't do that in Barbados yet. So go out and find how to do it. So that it was like oh, crap. Well, there goes my home again. My parents are like, leave the island again. Go follow your bliss, young man. So then it was like, Well, where do I go? And again, there is no home, right? There's no place that was grounding me. And it was, well, America I have already been there. Canada is too cold, sorry. Australia is too far away. And then it was like, well, I give speeches in English. So I want to go give speeches, I'm going to go to England, because it's only five hours time difference, and they speak English there.

SC It's interesting, like to hear you speak, and obviously, this is not the same, but I can relate on some level,I moved away from my family, within Canada still, but I kind of lived all over, as soon as I could, and I've never lived in the same place as my family and I, I kind of always expected that that would change. I don't know. It's just like the idea of like place and like feeling like a home somewhere. I've never really felt? And I'm wondering if you've ever felt that in a place or if you kind of like attribute that to the people in your life?

Marlo Yeah and that’s a good question. You know, now that I’m back in Barbados, now it's  kind of one of those things where when Corona happened, I was like, where's the best place to be? Let's go back to your island where you'll be in lock down in 30 degrees.  And I think now I finally feel like in Barbados, like, here's my base, and obviously the world, the world is all zoom now, so I do my talks via zooms, I do all my speeches via zoom and when the world opens back up again, I can always go and do my talks, do a tour of Canada for three months, and then come back to my island again. So I think after a while, I finally feel like I have a home where I was born, which is odd to say, but here we are.

SC When you left Barbados for the first time, how did your parents feel about you leaving? Because my family was pissed. Like, I have never been reemed out more than like, being away from my family.

Marlo They did not get it. Actually no, my mother always says, ’you know, I give you wings, so you could fly’ that's my mother's thing. But my father, you know, we're from a small island, right? An island that is 21 miles long. And it's beautiful, and everyone wants to be here. I think for my father, though, the more worry was… my whole family has this history. You know, I have a great grandfathers that died in a mental hospital. My grandmother had a mental breakdown when she was in her 30s. My father had his struggles as well. So it's one of those things where he saw the track I was on, and he knew our family history. And he didn’t want that for me, but he didn't say that yet. And then when it worked actually, this is a 22 year old Marlo move. When I got my visa in my hand, I went on YouTube and played ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. I then gave him my passport to the visa page. And I was like, told you it’d work. So so then so afterwards, I think afterwards, he was a bit more calm, he saw that it worked out. But I mean, they were understanding but they were sad because obviously their son is leaving. And my mother has never that Barbados. My father, at that point had left once to go Trinidad like 30 years ago, so many people don't really leave. So they didn't know where I was going, or what I was doing or what it would look like. So they kind of felt like they had no control over the situation.

SC It's kind of beautiful that they were able to like see outside of themselves, to be able to tell you to, you know, follow your purpose or something or, or not keep you close even though they probably wanted that. 

Marlo Yeah, I think when my father saw MarloClarke.com he was like, is this you? Is your face? I was like uh huh. And then he watches TED Talks. So January was so much crap because I did a lot of work in October, November, December. And in January, nothing was working. So I was like, did I just waste all that money and time but then at end of January, I got the confirmation. So I told him the Ted Talk, he was like you're doing TED Talks Marlo? I was like, uh huh. He was are you serious? He was like he was all over the moon and all that. So yeah, it's just a very cool feeling to kind of tear everything up on goal when it all works out and your family realises what you were trying to do all along.

MP This is really such a beautiful story of family acceptance and branching out by yourself and working out where home is and everything, but you know I think my favourite part is Marlo playing Frank Sinatra as a little dig to his dad! And it also made me think, because in his letter he mentions a few songs that he tells his future partner to listen to. So, I wanted to know, is music a big part of his life?

Marlo I realised when I was travelling, I think when I first left Iowa, I made a few great friends. There was one guy named Jim Fyfe, his camp name  was Boomer, by the way my camp name was tada! that was my camp name. So Boomer was like this like quintessential cowboy right, so like when I when I got to Iowa to Chicago, my first flight into America went into O’Hare, Boomer got me from the airport. Like cowboy hat, flannel, cowboy boots like I was like what the hell am I doing? And he loved this song named Chicken Fried by, I think it’s by Zac Brown band? So whenever I would, whenever I was think about Iowa I get nostalgic about camp I would play chicken fried, so whenever I travel I have a travel playlist that I play so whenever I hear Mumford and Sons I think I'm on my first trip to Norway. I met a friend in Norway like 18 years ago in an MSN chat room. And we kept being friends all this time and we’re still great friends now so I go to Norway every year. So yeah so music is a big part of what I do, and you know how I see things so those three songs are three country songs but they're three you know country love songs. And then I mean You Are My Sunshine is just a song that I just, I mean, I just like the song You Are My Sunshine and I’ve sung it -

MP Yeah, who doesn’t?!

Marlo Well one of my partners wasn’t a fan.

MP Oh!

SC Wow, rude. A sign, maybe, from the universe.

MP Hang on, are you recycling these songs on all your different partners?

Marlo You know what You Are My Sunshine sometimes you feel that they’re my sunshine. So yeah, I mean, I’m not recycling every song! 

SC I think that's fine.

Marlo Hey, when I get kids, when I get a little Cecilia, and a little Theodore I'll sing them You Are My Sunshine too!

SC Fun fact about that song in my life. I actually sang that song before I spoke words. Those were my first words. Yeah, I didn't know all the words, but my first words.

Marlo Thank you Steph for confirming. Thank you. I appreciate that.

SOPHIE When you wrote this letter, were you... Were you really thinking about like, who your future partner will be? Or was it just like a momentary thing where you're like, I'm gonna write to my future girlfriend or were you like, kind of like, really thinking about your future partner?

MARLO I’m gonna open up really intensely right now. That year I was dating someone, we were friends for two years, we ended up getting together and things were going well. I met her parents, that all went really good, they were bragging about me to their friends and all that, and then she bought a ticket to go to Barbados. And then her father one day was like, you're going to Barbados? It's getting serious? Well, I don't like black people. And, and he thought that she had a phase of wanting to be with an exotic black guy, and that the phase would end, but when he realised that she was buying, she bought a ticket to meet my family, and it was getting serious, his exact quote, I won’t mention the cities, but city A is very small and homogeneously white. And city B is very diverse, about 100 miles away. And so he said, you know, I don't like Marlo. She was like, but why he's great, like you were bragging about him. He said, why do you think we never left A and moved to B? And she said, is it because he's black? And he said, yep. And then, and then she came down to me for the weekend. And we were crying and drinking wine, and she was like, okay, if my mother is okay with it, we have a chance. And she went home on Monday, and her mom said that coloured people shouldn't date white people. And I was like, well, and yeah, so that was that… and a few weeks later, she was like, I can't do it. And her, her sibling’s reasoning was, it's just, just in a different time. So yes, they're racist, but it's okay, because they are parents. And that trip, I was in the airport, she was supposed to be there with me going to Barbados with me. So I think that I wrote, I wrote it from that point of view, because I was in the airport, going to Barbados alone, I was, you know, eventually I'll meet someone where, you know, it'll work out, I know, I'll be fine. I will communicate well, and the chips will all fall correctly. And eventually, we'll go to Barbados together to meet my grandparents together. So that is, that is why I wrote that after that moment.

SC I'm so sorry.

SS Kudos to you for staying positive after that, like, you know, writing to like, a future partner. Like, I feel like I would have written a lot after that. Like, fuck the world, everything sucks, like why does everyone suck?

Marlo Oh, I had that time. Yeah, I mean, it was, it was unfortunate, but you know that’s--

SC I mean, I do want to like, take a moment to just like, say, I'm so sorry that that happened to you. And like, no one deserves that to happen to them. That is a terrible experience. And I'm so sorry that I happened to you. You are such a beautiful person.

Marlo Yeah, and you know that wasn't the only time ladies, like this is... It's uh, especially because I'm foreign. I'm black. And I'm foreign with a heavy accent. It may even happen if I dated a black person, because, you know, I'm black and they're black, but I'm foreign. So it's like, for me is like, where is my place? Right, like, I’m black, I'm foreign, I worked in social work, I was one of the only men in social work as well, one of the only young people in social work as well. So you know, it was a, it was a, it was a lot of learning and finding my place and then realising that it's okay not to have that. But just love who loves you and, I love racist people. I'll be honest with you, I love them. Because the reason

SS That’s a bold statement Marlo.

MARLO The reason they're racist is because there's something, like it's just a lack of proximity. Like if you grew up away from a different demographic, and you only hear about the demographic, that's all you know, I love like, there was one time this guy was like, I don't like black people. I was like, perfect, let's have coffee. And we sat and had a coffee for two hours. And then they may say, well, he's a good one, but the other ones are really bad. But again, it's I like it because there's something about them that they're missing. And hopefully I can I can give them a different perspective on it. So I did I mean, there's no real hate in me. I mean, they don't hate me, they just hit the idea of me that they were fed by someone else. 

SC I do think though, like, I just want to say if to the white people that listen to this, like that work that you're doing to make people see you should not have to be done by black people or people of colour in general, it should be done by the white people that are in proximity to those people. And though it's like beautiful and very appreciated that you are doing that work and like feeling safe doing that work, like we gotta get our shit together. 

Marlo Yeah, I mean, I am in no way painting it with a glitter brush. It is some bullshit. And it's scary being black in some areas. You know, I travelled all over America, I, sometimes I would go to stay really, really far away from anybody. And I would call my friends like, Hey, I'm going to this state, I'll call you in two hours. Yeah it's, it's not it's not fun. It's not snazzy. It's unfortunate. It's difficult. But I have felt in my situation in Iowa, I knew the police chief, I need to superintendents, like I was well known. So I felt safe doing that.  Racism is terrible, but I just realised that I am in a position where and I think what's unique about me is that I grew up in a black, in a country with mostly black people. So my first white person, I was like, 14, working in a bookstore, right? And then I moved to America in a mostly white area where I was the diversity for a bit, I had to learn to function in that space as well. And then I moved to England, where the racism there is very proper and quiet. It's a lot more subtle, you know, a friend of mine, her mum heard about me, and she heard I was black. And she said, oh, well, they're all they're all promiscuous, you got to be careful with that. Knew nothing about me at all I knew nothing about, but that was the first thing and she was like oh it’s not racist, it's just an observation. Well, it's a prejudgment, you know, but either way, I am not making racism sound nice or easy or friendly, I'm just saying that I feel safe in this situation, with my mindset of growing up in a black country, where I didn't grow up with the notions of racism or hiding our fear, I just moved there as an adult. So I was able to learn as an adult, so I'm not making it sound glorious at all is terrible. But I feel safe, sharing a bit more of myself with people who may not like me because of how I look.

SC I do think it's interesting that at the beginning, before knowing this that we were talking about this like concept of home and sort of being always outside of it, and now there's like this other parallel where you also feel kind of outside of it in like a racial way too.

Marlo Coming back to Barbados again, you know, I haven't lived here for eight years. So I sound different because I speak slower now I enounce- I don't speak the dialect. like I used to. I can, you know, I can say [Bajan dialect] .That's our dialect. I can do that. But I've just, so when I come back to Barbados, no, I'm Barbadian. But I'm the Barbadian that left for eight years. So I always have this permission to just be you know, I could walk around with no shirt on because no one knows who I am. You know, and I can go give a speech to a company in Zanzibar, and when I turn the camera off, I'm Marlo again. So it's a unique situation, but one that I enjoy very much.

SC Well, it seems like you've found like the concept of home inside of yourself, which is, I think what other people try to do by finding it in other people or other places or other goals in their life.

SS Do you still write to yourself? What do you want to know for your next letter?

Marlo I haven’t wrote to myself since that letter. Or not that I can remember. But I might get two years and be like, surprise! you were drunk one night and wrote to yourself, I don't know yet. But I actually planned, I was gonna write a new one, and then this happened, so I haven’t written a new one yet, but I took some notes down let me see here if I…If I wrote a new letter, I would say that if you told me I'll die tomorrow, I would smile. Go see my parents and hang out till then. I have lived well, accomplished my goals. Loved with all I had, failed real hard, and have left the world to TEDx talks with my thoughts. It's been a good ride.

MPI love that. And also you say, erm, I’ve forgotten the words you just used exactly then but, it’s something similar to in your letter as well about like, doing yourself proud and, and sort of just living life to like its max. And you said that in your original letter you said, like, live hard or live with the most you can or something. 

Marlo Now Marlo. Live my friend. I hope you are still living and loving and experiencing life. Again I'm proud of you. Change the world sir and love like crazy. Love every minute of every day.

MP And you've basically just said, yes, I've been doing that, which is amazing!

Marlo Yeah, I think isolation teaches you a lot. And I've had a lot of isolation throughout my travels, going to a new place and not knowing anyone, and it was, it was time for me to kind of re-evaluate what I'm doing or where I'm going. And I feel like I have taken some pretty big risks in my life, whether it's selling all I have to go to America or leaving America completely after so long or going to Europe starting over again are coming home. So I've kind of… if my heart says go I do that, or put steps in place to do that. And things I've worked out in a way where, you know, I've had lots of failure in my life, like lots of it. But I think my mindset is, well, like, what did I learn from that? Let's go do it again. And to where I am right now it's worked out. And I may not get any more speeches ever again. But I'm okay with that. Because you can always go on YouTube and type in Marlo Clarke and find my TED Talks. And when I'm dead, you know, you can always, 20 years from now you can still go find those, I think my gift that I can kind of like here's some things... and those thoughts came to me like in this room I’m in right now.

Steph Do you have any advice for people like starting over? You sound like someone who's like built a community, I mean, obviously, you're, you're comfy with yourself, that's probably step one. But do you have like, how did you meet people? I feel like we're older now. Like, I don't know how to make friends anymore. I'm 30. I'm like, No one wants to be my friend. I don't work with anyone except people on the internet like, where do you even meet people

Marlo You know, so those are two separate questions, right? The first one, on meeting people. The biggest thing is, first off, all apps are helpful, so there are apps to meet people to meet your friends now, which is good. But like even I was in Munich, and I went on this walking tour. And I just met this guy was like, hey, you want to have a beer after the tour? And he was like, sure. So we had a beer, and then just kind of travelled Europe for a week together. It's what it's one of those things, I think, and being very honest, we are... not to go too deep, but around, around 11 or 12 years old, we kind of stop being ourselves. Right, we're very young, and our goal is just to have fun, and around 12,13, our goal is to not be made fun of. So we need to conform the best we can so no one laughs at us. So we tell our parents we want the same shoes and the same backpack, and the same toys, as everyone else, because if you're different, you're ostracised for that, and that's 13 years old, right? That's like a very fragile time. So we can all think back to when we were younger. And we were we made fun of or bullied, everyone, like, why can't I be like them? So we all try our best then to become like everyone else. But everyone else is trying to like everyone else. So who's themselves? If I'm trying to be like you, and you're trying to be like them, and they're trying to be like me, it's just a cesspool of crap happening. So I feel like, I feel like we lose ourselves around our preteen years trying to conform. And the thing about meeting friends is that I realised that I'm just Marlo. And there are things about me that are terrible, and things that are great, but I'm just me, I’m just ok being told no, I'm okay being laughed at because it happened so much in my life. I mean, there were times where the entire class was laughing at me for stuff when I was 14 years old. But I thank them for that, because it made me who I am. Right. So now if I'm in Norway, you know, I see someone having a drink. I'm like, hey, have a drink with you? And if they say no, so be it. What did they lose? I will never see them again. You know? So it's kind of, kind of like being open to things not working out. And knowing that no matter what I'm always Marlo, and I was able to grow through a lot of stuff I went through when I was younger. So it's just kind of being okay, being told no. That’s how I meet people. The last one on what I would tell people about being grounded... The best advice I have for people is that no one has any idea what they're doing. And anyone who says otherwise, they're lying to you. But we we all have this facade as movie stars and basketball players. But you know, we see a highlight reel. So we're seeing everyone when they're smiling and out on a hike. We don't hike every day, we cry most days, because life is hard right now. You know, I'll tell you in January, my life was absolute shit. I cried every day. I slept three, four hours a night, I called the Good Samaritans. Life was really, really bad. And it's ok that life is really really bad. Leaving America, the hardest thing was leaving my therapist you know, but we never know what we're doing. And if we realise that life becomes easier, and people trying their best to promote that facade, they’re they sometimes are the most lonely, because everyone thinks they have it figured it out. So they must keep having it figured out or they'll lose their brand. But some of the best brands you have are people who realise that they don't know what they're doing, and they ask for help when they need it. So that's my advice to everyone, no one knows what they're doing. So go do what you think is best, evaluate it and just go do it again, with more information, but don't ever feel bad about not having the answer because none of us do.

SS Marlo, you are a great human. You're such a good human. I don't know like, just talking to you, it's just like…reassuring but also a realistic conversation as well. You know, it’s very real.

Marlo Well, if I can plug real quick... My website is MarloClarke.com, M A R L O C L A R K E dot com and there you'll find my Medium page you'll find my TED talks and my summaries and all my other speeches as well that I do. 

SC Well you ended your last letter saying that you could change the world. And I think that in a lot of ways you are, and you're definitely changing it through giving advice and sharing your stories and what you've learned from them with other people. So thanks for sharing them with us.

Marlo Thank you very much for having me. Thanks for your time, and thanks for your questions. And I really enjoy talking to you all. Thank you very much.

SC That was so good! Every time we hear Marlo's voice I'm like excited and happy. Yeah, I'm happy. I got to like relive that interview.

SS Yeah, he's so genuine in the way he speaks. Sometimes with public speakers, it could come across as like, they're just saying to say it to like, you know, get views or whatever. But you can just tell that like, Marlo speaks from a place of experience and life experience. And it's very genuine. So it was it was great.

SC This was really like an interview to where we went in talking about one thing and it just like, you know, we were like peeling away like cabbage layers until we got to the core or something you know?

MP Something nicer than a cabbage.

SC What else has layers? Cake! But speaking of hearing Marlo's voice, we actually got in touch with Marlo to see if we could get a quick little update. So none of us have heard this yet. And I'm pretty excited.

MP I'm so excited! I want them to be in love.

SS But it's okay if they're not!

SC I'm just excited to hear his voice again!

Marlo Hey, the virtual date went really well, we talked for five and a half hours that night. Every two weeks since then we have a long virtual date where we get dressed up and cook the same meal and watch movie and play board games together. She's really good at Uno. And I lose almost every single time. But that's alright. Also, she was able to come in December because of new quarantine requirements. But she's actually going to move to Barbados in February for two months. And we'll live together. While she's here, she'll apply for PhD programs as well. And while we explore the island, explore who we are as a couple, and when it goes well I would go with her wherever she does her PhD and continue my online speaking career. So it's going really well and I hope that you all are doing well as well.

SC Oh my god!

SS I have chills all over. 

SC That's amazing!

MP That's so much better than I could've ever hoped.

SC She's moving to Barbados!

MP And then he's just gonna go wherever she goes.

SS I don't know why that made me like, whatever relationships workout sometimes, like it's not new thing. But for some reason I feel so good about this.

SC Well it's so nice to just hear good news. 

SS Oh my god, I know maybe that was it. We just haven't heard like genuine good news in awhile. Oh my god Marlo, we're so--as you as you can tell we're so happy for you.

SC We're so excited! A virtual pandemic relationship working out. Moving to the next level. Yeah, in Barbados.

SS I wish.

SC Thank you so much to Marlo for such an interesting and honest conversation. He gave us so much more wisdom about balancing our own resources, and making big life choices, but we just couldn’t fit it all into this one episode. So if you want to read more about Marlo’s life or watch his TED Talks, you can find info and links to everything on his website, MarloClarke.com. This episode touched on anti Black racism in america. We encourage our white listeners to be actively anti-racist by doing work and donating to anti-racist organizations in your community. This podcast is an editaudio original production, hosted and produced by me, Steph Colbourn, Maria Passingham, Sophie Shin, and the whole team at editaudio that helped us put it together! A lot of the music in this episode is from Audio Network, and we had invaluable help from Matt at FutureMe. Thanks Matt! You can visit FutureMe.org to write your own letter, and if you have one you recently received and would like to talk to us about it, email us at hello at editaud.io. The email address is also in the shownotes. See ya next episode!