It’s difficult to summarize our life experiences when we’re constantly trying to make sense of them. So, I suppose three months in Singapore was…long enough. Long enough to just get comfortable making my way around a new city. Long enough to pick up the local idioms (that, I would add, gain you a great deal of respect, lah). Long enough to need legal recognition that I was in fact there to work and not on some expensive holiday (like the dozens of Aussie families I tripped over on a daily basis). And it was just long enough to miss everything I had, forget everything I had, and then miss it all over again for completely new reasons.
Traveling gives us a completely refreshing perspective on “things.” And, in the same way flying across multiple time zones really messes with your body, relocating your LIFE, for ANY period of time, is a damn rigorous mental workout.
But alas, “wherever you go, there you are” right?
I’ve been using this as a motto for my life recently but, to be honest, I find it extremely hard to do. To live in the NOW. The thing about traveling is that you meet people. People with experiences. Similar or differing to yours, they enter your new-found connection with ideas and aspirations that, if you’re open to it, may alter the way you see the potential of your life. You’ve had these conversations. They’re exhilarating. They’re full of optimism. And, if you take them seriously, they scare the hell out of you.
We love imagining ourselves in new conditions, in new places. We started doing it after our first big fight with our mother in junior high (earlier for those of us who tried running away from home before we could even tie our own shoes). For others it may have been the first episode of MTV’s Real World that made us long to live “there.” And for those of us that came out of the womb curious, Dr. Seuss was the only person who really ever understood our restlessness. “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” he assured us. Oh! If only we believed it all back then. Oh! If only life was as simple a Dr. Seuss book! Instead, it reads more like a newspaper; different headlines with the start of each day, cluttered with panic and persuasion, and the threat of becoming irrelevant ever impinging the way we once knew things to be.
As much as we wish to hold on to the way things were, the way things ARE, we deeply depend on the potential of what COULD BE to propel us forward. The pragmatist in us tells our restless soul to settle, get comfortable, and maybe even smell the roses in front of you. But the adventurist in us wants nothing to do with the word settle, loves sitting on hard surfaces, and knows that there are plenty of pungent things out there worth sticking our noses into (like the subway in Little India, or the durian stand in Chinatown).
All this to say that the past three months in Singapore was clarifying. For the first time, I can begin to articulate this sense of restlessness that I’ve always felt inside me. While the making sense of it all is definitely still in progress, I’m more at ease with my uncomfortableness than I ever was before. And though Dr. Seuss wasn’t one of the people I met on my latest adventure, I’m open to allowing his experience and ideas about life influence mine too. So to quote this fellow dreamer;
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
I think I’ve just found my new motto.