One of the beautiful things about traveling and living abroad is the excitement that comes with the new and the unknown. That’s where the adrenaline rush kicks in and the addiction begins. However, I find that sometimes the adrenaline rush isn’t enough to keep the fear that also comes with the unknown at bay.
I find myself emotionally fluctuating as the end of my program comes nearer and the days fly by with a speed I swear to you increases every year, till the days, months and years are all blurred into one and I can no longer remember in what year I graduated, first came to Spain or lived in Costa Rica. The dates and years become mere numbers that mean nothing and fade as new memories and experiences are filed away, pushing those older memories further into the recesses.
Have you ever wondered why there is so much stress on connecting the dots and having a 5 or 10 year plan is so important in our culture? Or why it is so important to know what you’re going to do with your life by a certain age? While it’s absolutely crucial to have goals to strive for, we are also fortunate to live in a day and age where opportunities are more varied and somewhat more easily attainable. As the standards of living change, we still find ourselves stuck in an older way of thinking, following stages of life that have already been decided for us.
I think part of this mode of thinking stems from fear. In fact, many of our faults as human beings stem from fear, a fear of the fact that we are tiny beings in a wide universe we know nothing about, and also the fear of that inevitable part of life: death. Providing some form of structure and something that we know will comes to pass provides a certain sense of security and knowledge, easing our doubts and alleviating our deepest fears.
And so as May 31 comes closer, and I find myself without any job opportunities, a desire to continue traveling the world, being caught in a battle between staying or going, my emotions seem to fluctuate on a daily, if not hourly, basis. There are so many different possibilites, it’s hard to know where to even begin, not to mention a nagging fear that I will make the wrong decision. I can wake up feeling clear minded and calm, but after breakfast be suddenly struck by anxiety.
But, what a beautiful difficult decision to have to make. I’m plagued with not knowing what country I should venture to next. Having the freedom and ability to make this decision is something I try to remember and give thanks for on a daily basis.
As I finally begin to shed what I feel are the shackles of societal expectation, my neck seizes up while I try to figure out which door to enter next. Life is meant to be lived, and if I have the opportunity to live it in the fullest sense of the word, I will do my best to make it happen. What I know will never change is my profound desire to continue contributing to the happiness of my students and society.
“The human being is not a frail wretch at the mercy of fate. Shakyamuni insisted that to change onself now is to change the future on a vast scale. The Western impression that Buddhism is all about meditation is alien to the spirit of Shakyamuni. The goal of Nichiren Buddhism is neither escape from reality nor passive acceptance. It is to live strongly, proactively, in such a way as to refine one’s own life and reform society through a constance exchange between the outside world and the individual’s inner world.” -Daisaku Ikeda