Even more confusing for us teachers is that this time of the year we are generally revving up our activities, the settling in period has passed and we are now getting into our stride, taking on new projects and initiating collaborations across the school and beyond. Then there is our little expat tribe-of-three, only just now finding our feet, deepening those relationships and building bridges. We now know the best spots for food and sunsets, we recognise social and cultural cues, we feel more local then tourist. We can ride the wave and cruise into Christmas with all this new-found-Farang confidence under the belt. So i'm not entirely sure which season I am in. Which way I should be looking. I know the Jura leaves have turned and that snow is forecast. But here it's bright and sunny and we're planning a trip to the waterfalls for the weekend!
Something powerful that came out of our stories was a sense of harvesting what we have sown. We all have our hopes and dreams and disappointments. We live with them in small or great number on a daily basis. In my case, as an expat, a teacher, a mum, a traveller, a dreamer I have scattered many seeds of hope over the last few years. This very adventure in the first place came from late nights up with Matt dreaming up a slow life off the grid in the tropics. And last night I had a chance to look back at all of these seedlings and see which had germinated and blossomed and which had failed to reach for the sun and had in fact wilted. There was a sadness there, to admit that many of the stories I had told myself about what we would accomplish and who I would become had simply not happened. Little seeds that had not sprouted, not this time at least.
It felt like it was time to turn the soil over, dig'em back into the ground to feed my future projects, to grieve and to let go. A good composting analogy always comes in handy :)!
I am now in a position to see more clearly where I stand and how far i've come. What an incredible journey it has been...and still is! Because truth is... I'm living in Thailand right now! A giant cricket jumped on me this morning as I took out the laundry. I just had pad thai for breakfast and I can hear the stray street dogs just over the fence trying to maul each others faces off! I have a garden with a cacao tree in it, I hear my wonderful neighbour whispering sweet Thai words to her little girl as they chase butterflies. Then theres the smell of a rotting jackfruit nearby is almost enough to keep me inside for the day!
All these little things which remind how lucky I am to live this change. This change which we were seeking. The change which never promised to be easy.
I know that before leaving I was looking for "community", like minded people to share my world with, people I could love and trust and be vulnerable with. It turns out those people are everywhere I go! They were back home when I left and they are here when I arrived. Thing is it's up to me to foster the kind of friendships I want and to be a role model for the sort of community I crave to be a part of. Rather than wishing for a magical place where everyone loves and cares and respects one another... I need to hold that in myself and create it for myself first. I was externalising that responsibility. Blaming the Swiss, blaming the consumer culture, the disconnect, the speed of things... But then, even in the middle of the ocean, on a tiny remote island I found the same malaise. "Why aren't we taking the time to hang out?" "Why are we rushing and stressed out?" "Why can't we choose to live more in the present moment and let our kids be kids". Switzerland, Seychelles, Thailand. It's not a question of country or climate.
Perhaps it's a question of perspective, you choose the world you live in.
But more so its a question of "you get what you give".
If you give love you'll get it back.
If I want a community of healthy, happy, caring, adventurous folk I should check myself first. Otherwise I may keep travelling, exploring and discovering wonderful new places to live in... but that emptiness will follow me.
Taking a sabbatical looks great on Instagram. It is, it's visually beautiful and an exhilarating adventure. Especially if you are with the two people you love the most in the world! You're out to look for a new home, a new life. A little naivety and fearlessness thrown in and you have yourself an unforgettable journey!
At the end of the day, it may not be what you had in mind but the secret is that all this adapting to new habits and new friends, remembering who you are, adopting a new culture, new work colleagues, new rules, different expectations...THIS is where the beauty is! This is what helps you learn what and where home is... and you just may find it nestled away where you never thought to look.