November 11, 2017: Over the last ten years, I’ve been a nomad, wandering around the world, from Asia to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and back to Asia. I taught English in Korea for one year. I taught for nearly two years in the Sultanate of Oman, came home for a year, and then went to the south of China for another year. I spent the spring semester of 2017 in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo, Japan. All told, I’ve traveled to 30 countries (including all around the U.S.A.) and one U.S. territory – Puerto Rico.
I have been searching for something, but I’m not sure what. I know it’s a cliché to say I’ve been searching for myself, but I think that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been searching for self-acceptance, for deep and abiding friendship, for adventure, for self-confidence, for independence, and for inner peace and happiness. Sometimes I have found these things, and sometimes I haven’t. I hope to continue this journey in America, with a newfound appreciation for a land I admittedly took for granted. I hope to see the U.S. with fresh eyes.
I’ve been filled with wanderlust my whole life, and this journey was something I had to do. Now I am ready to return home, a nomad, interrupted. I don’t know how long this interruption will last before wanderlust whisks me away again, but for now, I feel like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together, closing my eyes, and saying, “There’s no place like home.”
I returned home from Japan in August, 2017, and in late-September to early October, I traveled with my husband to Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. In the summer before I went to Japan, we traveled to Iceland and to parts of Philadelphia and West Virginia.
It has been challenging reconnecting with my homeland, family and friends, many of whom have fallen by the wayside over my years of living abroad. There’s plenty to explore in my own backyard: in Washington, in northern Virginia and parts further afield in my home state, in places along the whole East Coast and all through America. So be on the lookout for me, a white-haired girl with a Canon and a notebook in hand, walking through the land of the questionably-free.
Here’s something I wrote about my “self” in a Friday Meditation I wrote for my blog: a nomad in the land of nizwa ~ friday mediation: the elusive “self”.
What is the upshot? About identity, I don’t know the answer. I only believe that my self is in flux, constantly evolving, ever-changing. Just as Buddhism teaches. My self is a composite of all the books I have ever read, all the interactions I have ever had, all the people I have ever loved and hated, all the places I have ever been, all the hobbies I have ever pursued, all the aches and pains and heartbreak I have ever felt, all the happiness and sadness and anger…. as well as that blob of gray matter that is in my rather large head. It is all my hopes and dreams and goals, which are always evolving. Plus. Many more things known and unknown, things remembered and forgotten, things experienced and only dreamed about.
Who am I? I don’t know. But, whatever my identity, I cannot become attached to any erroneous or self-important idea about it. It is always in flux and cannot be contained: it is a stream running down a stream bed, a snake slithering through grass, lava flowing from a volcano. I can only catch glimpses of it as it passes by. It’s not mine to keep, so I should simply let all notions of it go.
I love this poem, written by Charles O. Hartman, because it describes the thrill I always feel at the possibility of reinventing myself: Writer’s Almanac: Ticket by Charles O. Hartman
Some of my most well-loved quotes:
“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” ~ Goethe
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller
Here’s a list of the 30 countries I’ve traveled to or lived in as of November, 2017: 1) USA – spent most of my life here plus have traveled extensively. 2) Canada – several times. 3) Mexico. 4) Great Britain. 5) Bahamas. 6) France – twice. 7) Germany. 8) Egypt. 9) Singapore. 10) Thailand. 11) South Korea – lived there one year. 12) Turkey. 13) China – twice & lived there one year. 14) Japan – twice & lived there 4 months. 15) Vietnam. 16) Cambodia. 17) India. 18) Oman – lived there 2 years. 19) Jordan. 20) United Arab Emirates – twice. 21) Greece. 22) Nepal. 23) Ethiopia. 24) Spain. 25) Portugal. 26) Myanmar. 27) Iceland. 28) Hungary. 29) Austria. 30) Czech Republic. AND Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory. 🙂