It has been three years since I moved abroad. Though my letters havn’t been consistent the questions and aches I’ve felt over the past three years have been the same.
I moved to Geneva and then I left. I lived in Kampala and with work and an open heart I grew to love that change. Then I moved to Amman where I am living now.
The expat life has been exciting but it’s broken my heart a few two many times. I’ve fallen in love with people and built up families everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve transformed myself from a continental museum wandered to a streetwise motorbiker. Open and then hardened before transforming yet again, I have been formed by each experience
But the questions have not been answered. I only feel more jaded then I was at 24 moving abroad for the first time. I suppose through trials and adventures I’ve proven Rilke’s view that you tend to carry questions with you. Life doesn’t resolve itself no matter how many continents you live on.
I plan to keep in touch more if only to document my inward journey as I keep moving.
Jaded, confused, and heart sore. Getting a bit sick of the expat lifestyle. But addicted to the promise of learning one more culture, one more city, one more new creation of self. Watch as I see whether this is the right city for me or just one more stop.
Over coffee and some journal readings this morning, I realized that it’s only a few shorts months before my next birthday. I will be turning 26 in about 3 months.
Normally, I don’t really care about the years involved with birthdays—but something about people wishing me a happy quarter of a century this last time round resonated with me. I felt the age keenly with my 25th birthday.
I also spent my 25th birthday wishing I wasn’t alone.Honestly, it was my own choices that led me to be alone but I had this acute sense of being cheated. By life and by myself. I felt I would have more at 25.
The past year has passed more quickly then I imagine. I went from being completely alone on my 25th birthday to by spring I was at the happiest point in my life I could ever remember being. Then I threw caution to the wind and followed my dream to a completely new place, stripped bare of everything I had built the past few months.
Now that I am 3 months away from my next birthday, I feel I have achieved more this year then any beforehand. Yet, I am back to being alone.
This begs the question. While my 25th year has been a success, things are still difficult. What life lessons can I impart form this past year?
Looking forward to a little more wisdom this coming year,
I can’t think of a better metaphor than navigating by starlight for describing how we move forward towards the future.
In August, I attended a faculty symposium to create ____ College’s 5 year plan. I remember leaving the meeting strongly impressed by this phrase:
There is no such thing as the future…there are only the futures, the alternative futures. –Alex McManus, WordPress blogger
That statement continues to make the future less daunting. It grants an incredible freedom. You are the determining factor in your future. You get to choose which future you want to live. It’s not static and determined. It’s open and moveable. It could change at any moment. It’s not a product of chance or fate; it’s an opportunity.
Two things immediately came to mind as I read your post. I couldn’t believe how much your last lines echoed Galadriel’s blessing to Frodo:
I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
Galadriel presents Frodo with a type of solid starlight as he paddles away in his elf-made canoe from the safety of Lothlorien towards an uncertain future. A future that he hopes includes passing though Mordor to defeat the ring. Yet at that moment he still did not know the way, the method, or the outcome. He was plagued by self-doubt and had a task far larger than he was capable of accomplishing alone. Even with a fellowship of 12, a mountain had to be climbed, a dragon defeated, orcs and dark riders had to be outrun. Many of his companions perished or betrayed him, and at any moment he knew he could die and fail in his task. Yet something like starlight and hope compelled him onward.
Rilke writes in Letters to a Young Poet advice that well complements Galadriel’s:
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Love the questions. Live the uncertainty. Embrace the ricochet. It is an integral part of the journey of learning to navigate by starlight, become less afraid of the dark, and marvel like Van Gogh at the beauty of the stars.