There’s a reason why I have always flown airplanes rather than hot air balloons. See, with an airplane I can be precise in my navigation. I can choose to follow a variety of electronic signals guiding me to my destination or, I can simply follow compass headings, allowing for wind drift and such. I can fly across an entire continent and arrive at a pre-determined patch of earth smaller than a football field if I choose.
Pilots of hot air balloons do not wish to be that precise. They simply allow the winds to blow them along at the whim of the wind gods, knowing in advance only the general direction they will go but not knowing exactly where they will end their journey.
That sort of “letting go” and allowing the winds of life to blow me along as they may sounds almost irresponsible to me and yet, in reality, that’s what happens anyway whether I choose it or not. At various times in my life, I have set a course and moved in the general direction of my goal only to be detoured in an entirely new direction by circumstances far beyond my control. I may as well not have planned anything at all.
These days, I do a much better job of allowing myself to be moved by outside forces rather than my internal will. As the currents of life move me along, I now know that I will be just fine, regardless of where the currents take me. I can try to move against the currents but why? Once I realized that, like the pilot of a hot air balloon, I will land safely even though I had no precise plan, the journey has become much more enjoyable. No need to worry about all that troublesome navigation through life’s complexities. That is not to say that I have learned to be completely irresponsible. Diane and I continue to plot our general direction in life but I am now much less concerned about encountering detours than I once was and the destination is far less important than the journey.
Learning to trust that Diane and I will be just fine regardless of the variety of circumstances we encounter along our path may be the most important lesson in my lifetime. In fact, it may one of the most important lessons of those considering the life of an expat. There will be many changes an expat will encounter. As much planning and research as one does before taking the leap, there will be many things that could not be foreseen and must be dealt with at the time. Often, those things are significant and go against decades of habits and cultural norms learned “back home”. You will be okay!
Diane and I are headed out to do some shopping. She is sitting here staring at the perfectly calm waters of the Caribbean only steps away and making puppy dog eyes. She’d rather spend the time at the beach than the grocery. We did the beach and pool yesterday and it was amazing! But…the realities of life beckon. Shopping must be done and the forecast for the next few days calls for perfect weather. We can do the beach again tomorrow.
Some days, I still prefer to be an airplane pilot, going through the motions of controlling my life with as much precision as possible. Other days, I am content to be a passenger in a hot air balloon, allowing myself the freedom to release the control and just roll with it as it comes. I suppose that’s okay.