It’s a new year already. I can’t believe how quickly 2014 passed – so quickly that it seems like it didn’t even happen!
I often have this feeling of time whirling past, like I’m just part of the audience as life rushes by – as though I’m in stasis, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for some next phase, some kind of change, for the right time to engage. It’s a feeling I’ve been wrestling with for a long time, and it seems worse when living abroad: that somehow real life is on hold, and the time we spend away doesn’t really count. It means we are often making choices that don’t move our lives forward: we sit, and wait, and eat, and wait, and wonder when life will really begin. What is this feeling? Depression? Ennui? Homesickness?
You would think that picking up and moving across the world shows us to be brave, confident go-getters, grabbing the world with our fists and shaking loose everything we ever wanted. But most of the time I think we’re running from this feeling of being trapped by time and routine, only to be trapped by that very thing, in a grand chicken-or-egg game around the world.
Coming up on three years abroad and after a long trip home for the holidays, our thoughts are turning again to the future. Do we stay? Do we move home? Do we try something new? The thought of moving home scares me, as though somehow I will feel like we failed and be unhappy there, falling into old routines as if nothing ever happened, as though the last three years were meaningless and did nothing to break us free from the rut of suburban life. But staying scares me as well, as our current routines become, well, routine – and now there is nothing special about being here anymore: we’re just living the same regular lives we could have anywhere. Trying something new is just as scary, knowing that we will have to get over this hump of ‘life in stasis’ again, as we figure out the necessary sense of normalcy that lets us function in school, work, and society, but feeling like our progress in the world has been rewound all the way back to the beginning. So where is the happy medium? How can I have it all? Extraordinary experiences within a healthy, forward-moving life?
I guess I need to start small, making time for myself and my family, building up the core of personal health and strength that we need to be successful anywhere, whether that means a villa in Indonesia, a suburban townhome in Canada, an apartment in Europe, or a hut in the desert somewhere. I think I feel like life is passing me by because it is passing me by – it always will be, no matter how I choose to spend it or where. It’s not homesickness or depression, it’s just being faced with mortality. And I won’t find the strength to face that down from where I live or how, but from finding significance and happiness in every moment, no matter how small. So this year I will try to make time for those moments, and more time for the things that make me happy:
- More music practice each week, and try writing a couple of songs
- Regular weekly blogging, and start writing short stories
- Make time every day for exercise and yoga practice, and aim to be able to do 100 push-ups by the end of the year
- Try a new recipe every week, stop drinking soda, strict limit on dairy/wheat/sugar
- Host a music/games/theatre/poetry fun night for friends at least once a month
- Take a photography class
- Refresh my Spanish and French skills, and learn some German
- Spend at least 1 quality hour with the kids after work, no matter what
- Travel wish list: Siem Reap, Hanoi, Luang Prabang, Sulawesi, Northern Bali, Perth, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, London, Scotland, Iceland
So here’s to 2015! All the best to you and yours. I can’t even guess where I will be writing my 2016 plans from at this time next year, and I think for now that’s exactly how I want it.