Last week, my husband and I left the kids with my mom for a couple of hours and went to pick up a few things at Ikea. We had told her we would try to be back by noon. I was surprised to find at around 11:45 that we were already in line and ready to make our purchases. I turned to my husband and said, “Wow, we really will be home by noon. Yay!” Then I immediately began looking for a piece of wood to touch.
This habit – not really believing in any future certainty – has become a standard feature of my expat life. Before we started moving around the world, I don’t think I ever really thought about whether or not we’d make it to that party next week or that vacation in 6 months. I had a stronger sense that what we planned for would work out and I really didn’t think much further than that.
Now, after planes missed, vacations cancelled, unexpected earthquakes and sicknesses that have disrupted our normal flow of life – I’ve come to find it harder to feel convinced that anything is set in stone. I often begin sentences with things like, “Assuming everything goes as planned…” or “We’re hoping to…” I tend to laugh it off, but often when I find myself making a statement of certainty about the future and then qualifying it somehow with one of these phrases, I feel the unpredictability of life wash over me. I wouldn’t describe it as scary, but I would say it’s a regular reminder of how easily and quickly things can change.
But, if living this lifestyle has taught me anything, it’s the importance of moving on to our next big adventure regardless of the uncertainties that lie ahead. It’s not really bravery or even necessarily fatalism. It’s simply the knowledge that living life now, in the moment, is the only real option we have. And, despite the fact that the unpredictability can be difficult, I find that it’s also one of the greatest blessings of the expat life. We get to wake up everyday to the fact that we’re here, right now, with the option to live life to the fullest. There are fewer opportunities to sleep on the job. And, you know what? Even though it’s challenging at times, I think most of us wouldn’t have it any other way.