Run Baby, Run

4:48 PM Jmo 0 Comments

     It's really interesting to read all of the articles popping up lately about "Expat Life" or "The Joys of Living Abroad". All of them have hit certain soft spots. Some of them talk about the pains of leaving family and friends behind, some of them talk about the characteristics of an "expat", and some of them expand on being a part of a global community (my personal favorite). And it's almost certain that each of these articles touch on the thought of "running".

     Last Fall I was talking to a group of friends about this subject over some beers and it got pretty heated. My friend and I believed that at the root of everyone living abroad (in the parameters that we do) there is an aspect of "running". Running from something or, optimistically, running to something. It sounds harsh, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. At least we're all moving forward, right?

     Here's an excerpt from a recent article on the subject. (Written by a Huffington Post contributor and fellow expat.):
That's an interesting bunch of folks.

If you're unfamiliar with the expat world, you'd think that most of them would be what we sometimes call runners... people running away from some kind of legal or financial trouble back home. After all, from a "normal" point of view, why else would you leave your comfort zone and everything familiar and predictable in your life to live in a place where you are the foreigner?

And there are runners out here, believe us. There are bound to be.

But in our experience, what most of these interesting and non-normal people are doing isn't running from something. They're running to something.

They're running to better weather. They're running to fresher food and cleaner air. They're running to freer thinking. They're running to health care that is actually a good value. They're running to more relaxation. They're running to lower property taxes and utility costs.

And a lot of them are simply running to the adventure they've wanted all their lives. They're running to the places they always wanted to see, the cultures they always wanted to experience, the languages they always wanted to learn, the books they always wanted to write, the mountains they always wanted to climb, the caves they always wanted to explore, the cuisines they always wanted to cook...

They're leaving their familiar comfort zones to run to the new, the unpredictable, the unusual, the challenging, the foreign, the strange, the interesting.

And that, by definition, makes them interesting.
-What Are Expats Running From? Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher

So. What am I running from?
     I'm running from regret. I know that if I pass up opportunities like this, I will regret it. I'm running from the "What if?" I'm running from the "I shoulda." I'm running from a life set on looking back.

What am I running to?
     I'm running to my idea of a fulfilled life. I'm running to experiences I only thought I'd read about in National Geographic. I'm running to a global community and cultural understanding. I'm running to shaping myself.

     I understand that it's not for everyone. And I'm not saying that those who don't pursue a life like this are leading live less-fulfilling. Never. And I understand that I have some privileges that got me here. I have an incredibly supportive family and a network of friends as beautiful and as diverse as our incredible planet. But, I also know people who have got up and left with little to nothing. And have made it. So, if there is any little pang inside of you telling you to pack up a suitcase and dive in, do it. Time is short. Life is short. You can always go home. Better to look back and say "Well, that was crazy." than to look back with any notion of regret.


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