So I was just talking to a good old friend, and I realized that I have in some ways been a benny and not a real traveler in many areas of my life. I have been just like the tourbus goer complaining about the bathrooms or lack of ice, and I have kept my proverbial socks on with my sandals at the overcrowded beach. I judge that kid with the surf gear on who doesn’t know how to surf and doesn’t want to learn and bought the brand name stuff for the emotional resonance of the brand and the idea of freedom rather than the reality of getting pounded by the suf, but I have to admit that I have wimped out a few times and been discouraged when I fell down, and haven’t been out in the ocean for longer than I care to admit. We’ve all been there.
Right now I’m getting to the place of being comfortable in being uncomfortable. Home away from home is my home, to a ceertain extent- just as I feared it might become, because it feels like I am simultaneously losing my identity yet just dipping my toes in the possibility of a new one rather than going all in. I am exploring, and identities are created just to be destroyed, or rather, renewed.
And really, when I complain about all the various facets of France that are difficult and administrative and ponder whether it was a good lifesetyle choice to move here or not, and weigh the pros and cons, I am missing a good part of the point- life is for living. And if the pioneers on the Oregon Trail had said the journey wasn’t worth all the mosquito bites, and turned back early, or stayed where they were rather than pressing on, they would have missed out. ANdyet, it would have been a defining choice moment for them. There’s nothing wrong with planting your flag even though the road goes on. THat is a real adventure in itself. Andyet, the constant balancing act, or being in limbo wanting to turn back yet unwilling to summon up the will to do so yet not driving forward with full force, that is a crime tantamount to leaving the louvre early because you find the crowds too annoying. SUre, art doesn’t have the same valuefor every person, and yet, there is value in art. Even if it is difficult to measure it up against taxes or living expenses or the long wait in line. Is it really worth 15 euro to see the Louvre? Depends on the person, yet I can think of worse things to spend money on.
And making choices based on lifestyle- or pure ease- without any sort of other goal does doom one to mediocrity. For a lot of people, mediocrity is ok. But I think life is a lot more fun with big hairy goals, with real challenges and problems to solve. Not made up problems, but real ones one is workig to solve and a vision to work towards.
Even if it’s not career or travel related. Even if it is about writing a book, or something else.
But I’ll tell you a secret about goals. reaching them never actually brings you happiness. Yes, there is a moment to celebrate, and let yourself fully appreciate how far you’ve come and the grace of God that as sustained you.
Yet please be certain that it’s not the diploma, it’s not even putting on thebikini, that makes it all worthwhile. Probably all the moments you looked forward to doing it were more fun than it atually was. ANd maybe if you were really stupid you were nver actually satisfied not even for a second and all you could think of was the next goal or how you still weren’t good enough. And more than likely you felt a little sad and empty because you finally got the thing and a chapter was over.
Now, I believe in systems not goals- focusing on the process rather than the result- though it has been hard to get myself to do this in my real life. I do like the inspiring vision, and I’ve been so afraid to fail- and maybe to succeed as well- that I haven’t really let myself go all in on some of my most important goals- yet I have been doing the best I can.
But yes, the time has come to really risk my ego and all the incrusted habits of identity- that time is the present, is the now.
It’s always the right time to be here now 😉
I didn’t intend to stay in France. At least not consciously. THe first time I met someone who intended to stay, my mind was blown. Just as I felt incredibly jelaous of all the people I met who traveled before I had done so my self. Just as hard as I fought my freshman advisor when she said study abroad was most important for those who wanted to stay in the country to live and work (ha) just as I told my high school French teacher that I could never go backpacking and staying in hostels becase my mother wouldn’t allow it, just as I thought I’d never travel by myself it was too strange and scary and dangerous, just as I thought, no, I will never go abroad.
What a wonderful world.
It really is.
Even France 😉
So now, I have to accept the real adventure that I”m on. I might have come here of my own design and free will, but I need to leave room for things to happen that I didn’t lan on and admit when they do (like faling in love with France, and i do dearly hope I”ll fall in love with a person). But the adventure will really be not yelling when my hubby doesn’t pick up his ocks off the floor- o wait I do that too- just as it is saying yes t oFrance, yes to life even while I feel like screaming at how absurdly difficult and long the slightest thing is and how much better things could be in America. Not to be panglossian, but I”m in the bes of all possible worlds, I think- ther’s no other lfe I”d rater be living, Im very happy al told with the path I chose- and that’sall that really matters. This is the life I’m in, and it can change in a heartbeat, and that’s all that matters.
Does the path choose the walker or does the walker choose the path? Ho wmuch is destiny, and how much is not wanting what you want, but wanting what you’ve got?
The truth is, it’s all idle speculation.
What is not idle speculation is realizing that the choices you make are making you. THe people you let in to your life are making you. France is making me. ANd that’s the scary part. That’s the part that’s out of your control- no matter how strictly you dictate the terms or how much leverage you have. There is always not only a stochastic element to everything, there is also the fact of falling in love, and of growing and changing tat comes with it. It’s not just time, but love that changes us. And i’m not talking specifically about romantic love, I”m talking about really letting something get inside you and rattle your bones. It’s scary.
And there’s no “safety,” for the ego. There is safety in terms of not loving something that doesn ‘love you back- there have to be some limits, and unrequited love is not just tragic, but a waste- but once you’ve really been in a moment, it has changed you forever. Time will pass, but you’re not really alive unless you are living it, and letting life get inside you.
We’re all traveling in space and time together, a spinning blue top going in circles. It’s a small world afterall and life is short- love it because you can, love it because you must, love it because it’s the only way for your soul to survive and the best way for GOd to find you when He calls you home, love it because it’s the only thing worth doing, and because it makes every step infinitely precious and writes your own meaning to life. Now I believe life has meaning outside of us, but while living the most important thing is to find the meaning inside of you, for you. So love it.
Love is the only true adventure
And love him, her, yourself, and all of them, all of us too.