Every day is its own journey. Each morning I wake up, I can choose to head further down the same path, or take a new direction. My appreciation of this is largely the mechanism responsible for how I came to live this expat life. It’s not to say I don’t forget sometimes, weighed down by daily dos and don’ts and responsibilities.
I’ve been disingenuous in my writing on this site, and I’m giving myself a pass for it. I began this project as a means of finding my own voice in writing. It was meant to keep me disciplined enough not to let criticism or total lack of attention from others allow me to abandon my intent to improve. Ten Thousand Hours holds a special spot on my run mix because of a key line meant to remind me to keep moving, irrespective of any single race performance:
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great cause they paint a lot.
When we moved to Germany, I vowed not to become one of those obnoxious expats (I’ve found this trait as common in expats living in the US as Americans living out) who winds up going on all the time about how fantastic this or that in the rest of the world is, insistent on pointing out the folly of their home country and those who never leave it. It only took a bit over 3 years for folks back home to tell me that’s where I’d landed. Introspectively, I have no less reverence for where I came from now and at the same time no less desire to see and experience more of the world. Chalk it up to genetics or the product of witnessing both the clash and collusion of the divergent upbringings of my parents. Or both. Or neither. I’d say God made my feet to wander.
The thing is, I’ve been borrowing other people’s voices. I can see it clearly (hindsight, ja) when I read past posts. An easy thing to fall into, especially when you’re learning a language by immersion and you spend your time mimicking what you hear all day. I could elect to fold the site or I can embrace that the only way not to end up right where you’re headed is to change where you’re going. Giving up is, if not more common, certainly easier than perseverance. Stop being a sheep. I have to repeat this.
I’ve just finished reading Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor (and this solid counter-point essay by Dennis Hunter). Standing in the Himalayas last month prompted me to revisit the fundamentals of Buddhism. Not since my required religious studies course in uni have I spent as much time thinking about what I think on the concept of impermanence and the human condition. It’s a chaotic notion and overwhelming in many respects. It’s also pretty comforting to really understand how inconsequential the trivial is in the whole scheme – that dickish email you wrote last week, the awkward conversation you attempted to have in your second language (or in your first), the project you missed the mark on, the project you didn’t get awarded. It’s not to say they are not instrumental to leading you to the next step, rather that they are all forgivable things, moments which do not need to define self.
What does all this have to do with anything? I’m not totally sure I can say. Yet. It’s rambling, but it is part of the process. And, this is whatever I want to say, right now, in my own voice. It’s my own dance.