Living in Thailand, and, I suspect – living abroad in general – has this tendency to make you think about What’s Really Important. (I simply MUST use caps while typing that in order to buffer myself, and you, from the cliché.) But — it’s true. Getting yourself far outside the ordinary or staring down a challenge (be it physical, mental, or emotional) is the best way I know of to distill one’s life philosophy into more distinct, bite-sized bits. You don’t have to live abroad to do this, of course. I have to remind myself often that the luck and luxury I had in making the choice to come here is rare.
But today I had the “whoa” realization that just one year ago, I was working at a job that I didn’t love (understatement of understatements) and spending 10+ hours of each day either in windowless conference rooms, on conference calls, or on planes traveling to conferences. WOW, how life has changed. My self from a year ago wouldn’t even recognize this self. And for that, I say — Way to go, self!
I’ve marveled and pondered over the fact that as we get older, time (seemingly) goes by faster. And how when we are kids/teenagers, we are constantly looking forward to the next thing – 4th grade!! Summer vacation!! The end of this terribly boring trig class!! Getting my license!! Turning 21!! This makes time go by soooooo sloooooowly. Seriously. I think I lived entire lifetimes in math classes.
Then somehow, the blur of adulthood happens. Without endless summers and with jobs that happen every day at the same time, and no age-based milestones to hit, days fly by. Faster than they did before.
But I can officially say that the last four months of my life have been the slowest, in the best way, of my adulthood. (Not sure when “adulthood” started – perhaps 21? 30? Maybe never.) Every day is different. Every class is different. A new challenge every day, and something to look forward to every day, and a new day, every day. That’s one little thing that I have also noticed here: my days in Thailand don’t ever have a negative residue. I’m never in a bad mood that I can’t shake. Today (for the first time) I had to send two girls out of the classroom, and had them look up the word “respect” in the dictionary, but an hour later I was unphased. I just teach one 50 minute class at a time. If my lesson doesn’t go well, it doesn’t go well. Then it’s over and the chance to try a new one is right there waiting for me.
So today, this particular moment of this particular year, but I think also forever, What’s Really Important is: fill your days with challenges, with new things, with chances to reinvent how you think, create, and live. Don’t wait. Because if you wait now, you will always be waiting. And if you’re always excited about where you are and what you’re doing, then that is how your life will go. Most of the time. It’s so simple, but so easy to forget.