Saturday, 18 November 2017

Life is What Happens To Us While We're Making Other Plans

To my knowledge, the earliest published use of this phrase is attributed to Allen Saunders, in an edition of Reader's Digest from the 1950's. It is possibly the most accurate and sobering statement ever made, and I am reminded of it nearly every day.

I'll level with you; I completely forgot about this blog. It was brought up in a recent conversation with a friend of mine, and tonight, I dug it up online. I was feeling a little melancholic, and skimmed through the vast collection of three whole posts I made, from nearly four years ago. From time to time, I'll go back and watch old videos on my youtube channel. It's nice to see myself talk about the times and situations I was in when I recorded them. It feels like a more personable journal, which was the whole point of starting a youtube channel in the first place. But reading these posts from a few years ago on this blog, posts I didn't even remember creating, drew Allen Saunders' quote once again to the forefront of my mind.

In at least one of the old posts on this blog, I talked about how I didn't want to live in Salt Lake ever again. I had my husband and was just getting started in my life as an expat in the UK. Now, I am back living in Salt Lake, and I am, under US law, a single man. I am restarting my life for the second time, and I have a lot of similar feelings that I had when I was on the other side of the Atlantic.

There have been people in Utah, mostly members of my family, who have stepped up and given me a hand in relocating and getting back on my feet. I am extremely grateful for that, which is why there's also a pang of guilt when I entertain the thoughts I have of missing the UK. I met so many lovely people there and experienced so many things; some good and some bad. I found that in many ways, I fit in pretty well with the people there. I would certainly describe myself as a progressive, and saw that a lot of my views were lined up nicely with a lot of Brits. But there were always other things that made me feel less than fully integrated in the culture there, and I don't think the homesickness ever fully went away.

Although a part of me always wanted to come back home, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Throughout my entire five and a half years of living in the UK, I was regularly "checking in" with myself, monitoring if I really felt that staying there was what I felt was best. And when the day came when I started realizing that I should probably move back to America, I started to feel nervous. I had a good thing going in the UK, although I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be in my life. I was comfortable and had done a good job of picking myself up after some devastating events over the previous couple of years. But I felt like, in order for me to continue growing, I had to take the tough (and expensive) step of moving back home. I developed a game plan, a list of things I was going to do to get myself set up for the life I wanted to be living once I was back in the states. I'm proud to say that I've done well with that list, and I think 2018 will have a lot of successes for me. But I still worry.

I worry that I threw away a great opportunity, which was to live abroad in a country that, although not perfect, is pretty fucking cool. I have had to walk away from a lot of places I enjoyed, from my comfortable routine, and I've come far away from some of the dearest people I've ever been blessed to know. I worry that one day down the line, I'm going to look at my life and say, "I never should have left". I worry that, although I have a plan for how to get what I want, life will happen and throw me completely off course again.

I know that in order to make progress, you sometimes have to walk a path that is filled with uncertainty, and that can lead to doubts. I am grateful to have my family closer. I am grateful for my good health and for my safety. I know that I won the lottery when I was born into the circumstances I was born into, and that in a lot of ways, I'm privileged. I realize that a lot of this may sound like whining. It's just that I can't help but feel like I've taken the ultimate gamble by returning home to start again. Hopefully, a few years down the line, I'll be able to look back at that decision, not as a mistake, but as a painful yet necessary step in my journey.

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