Quitting America

Of all the questions I’m asked about taking off overseas, the first questions is almost always “why?” It’s a question stated more in amazement than it is of general interest. Why leave the comfort and familiarity of America for the unknown? Why embark someplace where you don’t know the language and the cultural mindsets are radically different? Why place yourself in the kidnapping capital of Asia? The hidden question behind the ‘why’ is “Are you a glutton for punishment?”

I could tell you the many, many reasons why I don’t like living in the U.S. but it would be a self-defeating statement. I’m no fool, the politics of life is present in every country and the Philippines has its share of drawbacks. So why is the grass greener on the other side? I don’t know. It just is. A part of it is the allure of island life and the fact that I am addicted to the ocean. Maybe a part of it is because I watched too many episodes of Gilligan’s Island as a kid and deep down I believe you can power your nipa hut with a wooden bicycle and rope made from coconut fibers. Then again, I think the biggest part of it is simply because I can – I know I can.

A co-worker of mine stated he didn’t take such journeys because of his natural aversion to risk. I have to agree with the underlying tone, failure in another country is not the same as failure at home. I wouldn’t say my risk tolerance is all too high either. There’s been a day or two that I have literally found myself shaking with apprehension. Some time in the past though, I’m not sure when, fear became my motivation. Maybe it was the day I faced my fear of heights by making myself bungee jump, I can’t say for sure. Maybe it was all the Nike commercials (just do it), either way, adventure has now become my addiction. The thought of being one of those people who are born, live, and die in the same place propels me like a rocket. I already have great stories from other countries and I want more. Some people refer to this as wander lust and at least one blogger I know has referred to travel as the antithesis of responsibility. I beg to differ because I know how hard it is to make a goal like this happen.

I have a definite need to help my brother in business overseas and the fact that I want to go some place new is undeniable. Ultimately though, I believe the ‘why’ will not be answered until the journey is sufficiently over and I can look back at what I learned and how it has changed me. When I look back at the past then, and only then, will I be able to see the sculpting hand of God and fully answer that question. Until that time, I try to remember that life is a journey, not a destination.

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