Traveling the Familiar

Life is spent traveling the familiar—same stores, same roads, same restaurants. The neural synapses grow lazy. They fire in familiar patterns. Ruts have formed and grow deeper. Like an old pair of slippers, I mistook the routine for comfort. Comfort can be dangerous, because like an old recliner, we settle in and don’t want to move. Don’t want to change. Then rust begins to form until we slow down and eventually we cannot move.

Children are a perfect example of constant learning, because everything is new to them. Their brains and bodies are constantly learning. It is unfortunate that many of us grow up and stop learning. We become experts at our crafts to the exclusion of everything else.  Our ruts deepen. We trod the same roads over and over and over again.

little girl and suitcase

My journey to the UAE is an opportunity to be engrossed in everything that is new (to me) again. Not only new sights and sounds, but new vistas, cultures, languages, dress, new everything. I won’t even have to seek because I will be surrounded by new experiences. One lady on a forum wrote that she stepped into the extreme summer heat of Dubai and didn’t even notice because she was immediately and totally engulfed by her new environ.

I know that traveling new roads will stir my synapses and my creative juices and energy will begin to flow again. I will slough off the rust that formed during the last four years. I will explore. My synapses will fire like a machine gun. I will stretch way beyond my comfort zones.

I will travel new roads.

Extreme Bungie Jumping

I describe my move to the UAE as extreme bungie jumping. The first step off the bridge is the scariest and most emotional part, but after passing through fear and doubt, I now find myself moving into optimism with the eyes of a child looking forward to a trip to Disney.

Some ask “Do you know anyone there”, and I say no. Some ask “Have you ever been there before?”, and I say no while watching the wonder in their eyes. They wonder how I could make such a move. They wonder if they could make this move. They wish they could make this move, and I don’t blame them, because I wondered the same things -though I never considered these questions when I was applying for jobs overseas. Like a teenager, I never considered the consequences. It was not until I received the email saying “We are pleased to make you an offer….” that I began to freak out. It was then that I said holy cow! Am I going to do this? Can I do this? Why should I do this?

The “why” question was actually the easiest to answer. I am going to do this because it is an opportunity to grow personally. It is an opportunity to experience an extremely foreign culture that has been in the news since 2001. I will have a first-hand experience with the Islamic culture in the Middle East. I will no longer be an ignorant American (or at least I’ll be less ignorant). I hope to be able to debunk some of the myths (Yes they can wear colors other than black and white. No I will not have to wear a burqa and walk behind my husband.)

I’ve passed through the storms of doubt and angst and come out into a calm space. I’ve learned that I can let go of things (i.e., winter clothes and the comfortable home). I’ve realized that I only see my brother twice a year anyway so now that will be once a year in the summer.  I’ll miss time with the grandchildren, but again, I will have summers with them, and there is always Skype.

Anthony Robbins teaches us that we have to learn to control our emotional responses if we want to lead a successful life. It is never appropriate to let our emotions control our behavior. I want to be able to control the direction of my life.

It feels good shaking off the familiar. It’s like taking off a pair of comfortable old slippers, and trying on a new pair. I don’t know what the future holds (whether here or there), but I am open to all possibilities.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Stephen R. Covey

Leaving Home

When I dreamed about working overseas, I never really thought about what that meant. It was an esoteric idea that seemed really cool in the abstract. I’d just go somewhere and work for awhile. I didn’t think about what it meant to leave family. I didn’t think about what it meant to leave the area I had called home all of my life. I never considered the impact on others.

My daughter-in-law commented that her son had recently experienced upheaval due to the breakup of his parents and now he would be confronted with the loss of his grandparents. I never thought about that. My daughter said she has never lived far from her mother. I never thought about that. My brother flat out said I should not go.

 It reminded me of my upbringing. My parents lived in the same house until they went to a retirement community. I remember how comforting it was to go home and know that Mom and Dad were there. I took that for granted, but hoped to provide the same for my children and grandchildren. I saw the effect of this move in my grandson’s eyes when he went to his toy closet and discovered it was empty. I told him G’dad and I are moving to another house. It was too soon and too complicated to explain that we’d be thousands of miles away and wouldn’t see him for another year.

 My friends and acquaintances are so excited and rave about the opportunity we have. I see the wishfulness in their eyes. One friend laughed and said she is so jealous. It is as if they are living vicariously through us. One grandson said he has told all of his friends that his grandparents are going to the UAE and they all think it is a great adventure.

 Times like this remind me that we are all so connected.