For those of us who like to travel, and have long wanted to live overseas, we often imagine that there’s some country/place out there, some golden, shining bastion of goodness that will cure everything, and be our “perfect” place. Sadly I’m coming to grips with the fact that Ireland will not make me taller, give my hair that added bounce, or whiten my teeth for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy that I live here, and can imagine living the rest of my days as an Emerald Islander. But it’s not perfect, and, I’m realizing, never will be. I’m also realizing that I can live with that.
Looking past its faults (dysfunctional government, aging infrastructure, low national self-esteem, lack of financial leverage, and a debilitating deference to “authority”) we are starting to realize that we could compromise a bit on this, and relax our tight-assed ways on that, and maybe, just maybe, appreciate the good things about Ireland (the easygoing way of living, the natural beauty, and the curious nature and underdog resilience of the people) enough to finish our lives here.
That said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people we left behind in America. Most of the people I grew up with have not moved more than 40 miles from where they went to secondary school. In fact, the vast majority of people worldwide don’t move very far from the place where they grew up. And, I’d imagine, many of these people live quite happy lives without venturing far afield.
That life is not for me, but thinking about it has left a few questions about “place” and “contentment” sizzling in my brainpan. Why do we, as restless (or forced) migrants expect “place” to be anything more than just the spot where providence set us down to live our lives?
No one place is perfect, and looking for the perfect place is a mug’s game. Would we, as emigrants, be better off taking the top five on our endless list of life priorities, and finding a place that ticks those boxes?
What if we found a city and country that suit us, and that we can live with, faults and all? It’s a bit like finding a life partner (the ultimate life partner). They, and we, all have our faults. But our chosen partners’ faults are the ones that suit us, or they’re the ones that we can live with.
And, remember, among our partner’s “faults” we also find their willingness to accept our own faults – to accept us. And, when a city or country does that for us, it affects us more on a day-to-day (getting to work on time, and buying milk on the way home) level than the “perfection” fantasy ever will.
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
Finding the “Right” City For You