Having achieved perhaps my only dream that was rooted in emotion and desire and not in the idea to be more, better, perfect- to have a life in Paris, France- I was assailed with the idea “is this all there is?” and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t blissfully happy yet. The truth is that even when we get what we want, and are grateful and realize we still want it, life is still hard. THe even bigger, truer truth for me was that the second my dream began to materialize, I began to denigrate it, and feel I was stupid for wanting it, that it wasn’t big enough, cool enough, ambitious enough, MBA enough, capitalist enough, hippie enough, etc. Not to mention the whole business of so called “abandoning my family” to pursue my own selfish pleasures.
So yeah, pretty much all my deepest darkest thoughts came to roost at more or less the same time that I needed all my wits about me to transition to another country, start a new job in a completely new industry, and through it all remember everything is/was impermanent and I’d have to start looking for a new job in six months or so when my yearlong contract was over. Well, as it turns out 12 months turned into 18, and then 18 turned into a permanent contract. After six months, I’ll have something more or less like a tenured position, and the expectation is that I will stay at least 2 years and probably much longer.
Who knows at this point. There will probably be significant opportunity in London, though I don’t really feel tempted at this point. Just before the attacks, I was in an angry mood thinking of all the difficulties in France adn that I should just go and make more money and benefit from more loose Anglo Saxon management and become the kind of person who flits from country to country leading a privileged and pampered life. Even though for a while before I was sort of justifying all of my struggles as kind of a spiritual journey and practical doctorate in French language, business culture, and civilization- after another 3.5 years, I can ask for citizenship.
And then the attacks happened, and I felt a lot of life for my adopted country.
I may leave France, but I would like it to be with the assurance that I can easily come back, have a job, and really build a life, and not just as a tourist or hopefully not having to go through the rigamarole of getting a new work visa.
And truly, as I was seized with a desire I knew was slightly primature this spring, I would like to own a piece of Paris.
Because a 25 meter square apartment, a good enough salary, and a team that lets me learn new things are good enough when considered with my social, cultural, and spiritual life here.
My heart, at least at the moment, seems to beat the same rhythm. I feel like I am on the same frequency as Paris.
Earlier this year in Philadelphia, I understood why such a not bad, somewhat cute little city really bothered me so much as a graduate student
- it wasn’t Paris
- There was something out of tune, out of step, not on the same wavelength.
During that same trip, I thought to myself that the corporate life was wrong for me and that’s why I had a lot of struggle, that I should plan to get out of it as soon as possible, and that I am really an academic.
Well, I am an explorer but I am not an academic. I love to learn, but I like to learn from life and not only books and experiments. Though I thought I was a thinker, I am a damn good doer, and what’s more, learning by doing is really, really fun.
I’m pretty sure corporate life is for me, no matter how much it is maligned in the press and popular culture. I love the fact that I can do my art, travel, and live without worrying too much about money or having to try to make money from things that I love. I do love my job, to be quite honest, but I am soo happy I can pursue my hobbies and passions as just that without having the stress of making a profit from them. Maybe in the future this will change, but corporate life has been a huge source of personal and spiritual growth for me, and as an achievement oriented personality, I love the fact that there is ladder to climb, even if it is not as rigid and hierarchical as that metaphor makes it sound. It is great to be really rewarded in terms of money, status, responsibility, and scope to be a leader when you “level up.” Granted, that whole process is a game in itself, it is not automatic, but this too can be authentic and genuine, as well as effective.
But yeah it all depends on the person.
And the best thing in France is one can have a great job and a great life at the same time. There are few places better in the world to be a working woman and especially mother. Wheter I’m a mother or not, this aligns strongly with my core values.
Also money is not the be-all end-all here, and people are not rewarded only in terms of power, which is more equally distributed since employees really have a lot of power. Some executives pay was frozen at one point to ensure lower ranked employees could receive their scheduled raises.
This kind of environment is totally not beneficial to me as I’m not too far from executive class and am a manager, but still awesome!
So yes, there are a lot of things I like about where I am.
I wonder often whether I will become a high flying global executive type- in a way I hope so, eventually- and just flit from continent to continent in search of new adventures. I also wonder whether I will just get deeper and deeper into France, and become an expert expat here, a “lifer.”
It’s interesting to see what the future will hold, but I don’t think there has to be a new destination, literally or figuratively.
And that is the biggest progress I have ever made, in my whole entire life.