NOT DOWN YET!

8 07 2012

Hey – anyone remember this blog of mine??    Hellooooooo!

I’m the Expat Wannabe. I’ve abandoned this blog and left it dormant for a while, but I have not been dormant. Not by far! I’m going to pick it back up again with a new two-year plan. My 40th birthday is my new goal date for moving abroad — to a new location on the planet. That doesn’t mean I’ll stay there forever, but at least a full year then maybe wander along to another spot. Writing all the while, of course. Here is what I’ve been up to in the meantime… check it out!

My Writing Blog Is HERE

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Live the story of your life: what do you risk by not following your dreams?

2 10 2010

Complacency. There’s something to be said for the sense of security and calm the familiar and everydayness of life brings to our minds. The comfort of your own bed, the warmth of a smile from an old friend, hearing your favorite song from years ago and sitting down to your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant–these are strong elements tying you to your “comfort zone.” Beware–there’s also great danger here! What if you never added anything new and exciting to your treasured memories and experiences? To live the inevitable end-life of an old man or woman continuously regurgitating stories from when you were in your twenties, being a bystander in your own life’s tale, nothing unique to contribute and no new perspectives to offer. Complacency can destroy opportunities, little worm-holes of chance that pop up once in a while, saying “live!” while you smile at the temptation and determine these chances are meant for someone else, and return to sofa watching some crime drama rerun. The American Dream? 

Ahhhhh, the good old USA. The melting pot–land of diversity, opportunity and solace for “huddled masses” from far away lands seeking a better life, the pursuit of happiness where there is “liberty and justice for all.” Not to dispel a well-believed myth nor to completely knock the land of my birth, but things may not be completely as originally described. Go ahead and travel to every corner of the “lower 48” (The United States minus Alaska and Hawaii, because they DO have vastly different cultures–congrats!), and you will find similar scenes: somewhere, not far away there’s a suburban sprawl complete with strip malls, casual dining eateries and concrete block houses containing families (meaning individuals who barely know or like one another), electronic devices (televisions, computers, video games)that capture the majority of brain activity that is left after 10-15 hours of work or school per day, including homework. Exceptions exist for those involved with sports: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, etc.

In short, Americans keep ourselves so busy with work/school, technology and recreational activities–not to mention the insurmountable time spent keeping track of complicated finances, personal debt, complex taxes and insurances and emergency situations–that pursuing happiness or even paying attention to our own surroundings is sorrowfully uncommon. Uncommon, too, is being an active participant in developing the story of our own lives. So, this must be the basis of our values, right?

What do we truly value–many would commonly argue that what we value is a simple equation of how we spend our time. If we spend most of our time at work, then work is what we value most. If we spend most of our time taking care of our family, then family is what we value most. If current time-values calculations are correct, then what most Americans value today is fear. Fear? A value? seriously, this is a grave miscalculation. For if this were true, then why are so many Americans resentful of their long work hours or feeling suffocated by domestic duties or are swallowing anti-anxiety meds at epidemic proportions?

No–this is all wrong! Look to American history, even recent history. Americans are an aggressive, resilient, determined and adventurous breed. For the most part, all Americans come from a stock of people who got pissed off and left wherever they came from, facing grave danger in the most extreme situations or at the least, great inconveniences and fears, in hopes of a new start, freedom and opportunities. Those of Native American and African-American descent pass on  their own brand of resiliency and strength, born of a strong spirit enduring centuries-long attempts at genocide and slavery, stories of overcoming relentless oppression and victimization.

Many foreigners are not welcomed to this new land with open arms, and they fight and struggle, determined to succeed against all odds, because they believe in the dream. They believe in their dream like a fire burning in the pit of their soul, and are unaware of any other outcome. They pool resources with friends, family and community and build their dreams. They work and save from their beginnings as an immigrant store clerk or sales associate to owning their own companies, homes, cars and providing a college education for their children. They actively create their own stories, and their dreams come alive, because these dreams were the only realities they allowed to exist in their hearts and minds.

For those of us white-bread, fear-infused, spoiled, complacent multi-generational Americans–we are dysfunctioning in our own creation. We have, for the most part, become voyeurs, spying on the stories of others’ lives or fictitious lives through television, movies, computers, magazines, books and games. But, if we dared to break free–if we dared to take the chance to actively author our own stories to travel, truly develop a career that makes us happy and live out loud authentically, what would happen?

Most of us already live in fear, so there’s no need to worry about adding to fear–it’s here. Many of us already consider our lives failures, so there’s no need to worry about failing–it’s already here. If fear did not exist, what would you want your life’s story to be? What steps would you need to make that happen? What’s stopping you from starting now? What’s the risk of you not starting now? I bet that’s worse.

Do something extreme, and life will greet you with a big hello, saying, “Hey, where’ve you been? We’ve been waiting for you. Kinda worried about you. Anyway, glad you finally made it. Welcome! Now, let’s get started…”