I have been in Germany for now 3 years. Far longer than I originally expected. I’m quite happy with my decision, but it still boggles the mind that this is my life. All of the little (and big) choices along the way led me to the situation that I am in right now. And that is actually a pretty cool thing to reflect on.
As I wrote recently in a guest post an expat is a kind of pioneer. Moving out to carve out a new life somewhere else. This week I am thankful for the life that has found me as well as the life that I have built. It is still tough and not always free of stress, but to put gratitude for things that I have been given is always a good thing.
See my associative post as to fall being the start of my mental year. Three plus years ago as I was planning to get on a boat and come to Germany I set out a few things that I wanted to do. It was a kind of Micro Bucket List. Here is a condensed form of it with times it took to realize once here:
- Tattoo (1.5 years)
- Place to work (2 weeks)
- Place to live (2 months)
- Friends (3 weeks)
- Girlfriend (2.5 years)
I originally left looking for a change. In the past years I have noticed how much of the change had to come from within. I have had to put energy into making changes in myself. The move, though, did shake up my life enough to free myself form the habits that shackled my thoughts into a pattern. I have sunk at times back into that pattern, but when I do I try to remember exactly all the feelings that led me into leaving. To compare to now and remember how far I have indeed come since then.
A metaphor for life is perhaps hiking a mountain. We start out at the bottom and look up and decide we want to see what the world looks like from up top. At first the path is only slightly sloping and we can easily look back across the field to the starting point to see our progress. Then we get to the treeline and the path heads upward. Trudging forward every day uphill stumbling on rocks and being whacked by trees gets tiring. It feels like we have been doing this forever and getting nowhere. When you are in the forest and have no view, of course it feels like this. So I take a time now to look down at my path below and see where I have come from. Looking down below we remember when things were easier, but also now how good it feels to make it this far. To see the progress is helpful.
As in the mountain hike, once you reach your vantage point, you now can see other things to climb toward. Other higher hills, further hills, interesting feature on the horizon. This seems to be normal human endeavor, to always be striving to grow and achieve goals. To take the metaphor one last step though, please take time at the top to enjoy the reaching of the goal. Relax for a bit and just enjoy BEING at the goal. Look down at where you have come from and be thankful for making it. Do this and enjoy this before rushing off to accomplish something else.
So I am taking a moment at my vantage point in life to be thankful for the hard road that I have been climbing and enjoy being. American Thanksgiving is in 3 weeks, but feel free to be thankful now.