A week and a half late is better than never. I blame my lack of lack of life on the delay.
Last January I made one simple goal --- to live every day of the year with no regret. There was no “get in shape,” no “swear less,” and no “reduce stress.” Just live life with no regrets, which turns out is much easier said than done, but makes everything a hell of a lot more interesting. I would need more hands to count the stupid shit I did in 2013, but 30 fold more to count the things that would have been impossible if trapped inside some cubicle.
I visited 10 countries; worked on a boat; farmed rice (drank too much rice whiskey); visited America; rode a train through rural Tanzania; learned to scuba dive; motor biked across SE Asia; paid homage to the world’s (current) longest reigning king; gave bikes to school children; swam with manta rays; attended a funeral in Thailand, a wedding in Vietnam; was a best mate’s groomsman; bet in an underground boxing club; bungee jumped more than a football field; saw 2 natural wonders of the world, one 1,000 feet above in a glider, and one swimming through it; went sky diving with my dad; obliterated my bank account…; ran a marathon (kind of); played with monkeys and snakes; and moved to a new country, to name a few.
Of course I also was lucky enough to have my parents and friends visit me abroad, became closer to my brother than imaginable, made some great new friends, learned heaps equally about myself and others, and arguably more regarding business than was learnt whilst professionally consulting.
But everything wasn’t cheery: the grandparents are aging fast, an old friend committed suicide, one family member was diagnosed with lymphoma, another located a tumour, and friendships have most certainly been lost. Communication with folks back home could definitely have been improved; although, conversations become more and more difficult as time progresses, and I’ve got to admit: I think we all forget that conversing works both ways.
All in, anything less of saying it’s been an incredible, knowledgeable, testing, and life-changing year would be a lie.
The goal for 2014 unofficially revolves around getting back into the business world. Whether that be take on a new gig or start something new is currently still TBD. Maybe a combination of the two…
As for returning home, I can’t promise that it’ll be anytime soon. Hell, I’ve got two around-the-world tickets with Delta sitting in my account --- any takers? I recently read an article about a Brit who set a world record for visiting all 201 countries without a plane. The first thing I thought was “That took 4 years? I can beat that.” But not alone, so if you’re interested…seriously.
On that note, recently I’ve been receiving minor criticism regarding "my" views on America. Apparently, my posts on either my website or Facebook have been translated into “I hate America” or “America is a shitty country,” not forgetting the numerous adjectives and phrases that get thrown in when “quoting” me (exhibit A). I’m clueless as to where these came from, but I do --- when they’re not anonymous --- find it ironic that I get these comments only from people who have never lived abroad. While I’m not an expert, I thank you for your expert opinion.
So for the record: America is an incredible country. Is it the best country? Well, I don’t know, because I have 190-something other countries to visit before I can make the call. What I can call is that it does a hell of lot of things right, but it also does a lot of things wrong. The same is probably true for a majority of countries (and myself, but reversed). Does it make me a coward for pointing these things out and not being there doing anything about it? I’ll let you answer, but before you do, be sure you answer the mirror, first.
Does being born in one country force you to live there forever? To provide for those citizens only? To discredit other countries? To assume your birthplace is the best? Was Einstein right? Is nationalism the measles of mankind?
I don’t know, and dare I give an early opinion here. It’s something I’m working hard on to find out. To discover.
While I’m grateful for everything I was able to read, write, say, learn, and do in America without fear of persecution, my quality of life abroad is far higher, and until that changes, I’m not 100% keen on settling down back in the ‘ole United States of Freedom.
That, I hope you all understand, does not make one an ex-patriot, simply just an expatriate.
Below-below are the promised pictures, but directly below is a great, possibly the best, reply to an email I sent out in 2013. I wish you all a great 2014; already I’ve heard of career advancements, salary increases, business school acceptances, premature babies getting healthier by the day, and travel being planned. May we all keep living the good life.
In its unedited form:
“Patrick: Thanks for including us in your posts.
Whether the world is big or small; whether people are black or white or “other;;” whether they are rich or poor;, whether they are in Africa, or Thailand, they are still people; and there is a common bond of humanity which binds us together. But there are also deep-down cultural differences that work against that “binding” and which try to force us asunder. You are seeing both, and God bless you for what you are doing.
We have been most everyplace around the world in our time in the Navy, and we have seen much of what you are seeing, but, admittedly, not in the personal detail which you are experiencing. We have come away from all that - - as we hope you will, too - - with some appreciation of the fact that, somehow, we must find a way to bridge those differences - -so that we can somehow accommodate one with the other- - so that we can all live together is some semblance of harmony.
Recognizing the problem, of course, ,is the first step in that process. You are getting pretty good at that.
When you finally decide to come home, bring with you some ideas on how we as human beings, can solve the problem of human conflict.- - some system or structure which might help toward that end. I have long advocated what I call the “social dialectic,’” which pits one social idea against another until some accommodation is reached. This, of course, is a long-term process, but it has evolved over time and in various localities in social structures which try - - mostly unsuccessfully- - to assuage those differences and to provide a more harmonious social environment for everyone.
We have evolved in America what I think is the best system so far to bring people together rather that to force them apart, but even that continues to have its problems. But that is, in my view, just part of the ongoing dialectic, the ongoing social sine curve- - which is another term I use to describe the historical process- - and, of course, we all know that a sine curve has both a nadir and an apex. I like to tell myself that we are experiencing the nadir these days and that an upturn is sure to come. I sure hope I am right.
But that upturn, ultimately, depends on people like you- and others with your passion.
One word of admonition from one two generations your senior: Please, never lose that passion. Find some way to keep it alive. Actually, I think you are already doing that.
Best to you- - hope Thanksgiving in Zambia is as joyous as it is here in Atlanta.”