Dramatic as it may sound, it is true. I used to regard my tenure here as a “time-out” of sorts. A “time-out” out of the grind of life in the United States that seems to befall all who are partaking in the race, rich and poor alike. “I’ll get to live in a Buddhist nation, (albeit heavily capitalistic as well – as I write this two Buddhist monks just walked into the Starbucks I’m at, judge away but I swear by Buddha its true)” I fantasized. Experience the collectivism of East Asian culture, which has been such a delight (I know this is a generalization, and I don’t give a damn…it’s a good one). “I’ll get to travel deep into Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, THAILAND anywhere.”
But what I didn’t count on in coming to Korea was how being self-exiled from American society would contribute to what I believe to be a massive growth spurt of spirit – is the best way I can put it. I came to Korea and met like minds that had arrived to similar conclusions, ideas, suspicions, proclivities, but through a totally different stream path. Those who began flying in their own minds, out of the confines of the socially scripted path that they had been perpetually corralled onto in their respective western towns since birth. I’ve interacted with so many from all over, and not only through boozey eyes. Exchanging our most precious findings at haste out of the excitement of finding each other.
Eventually explored dimensions of potential that were alien to my American identity, which in retrospect was suffocating in things American. I’ve been here now for about 6 years and in that time I’ve seen friends and family back home regress as opposed to grow. Perhaps its different with y’all, but many if not most, are rather stagnant or worse in their knowledge of the world, similarities and differences therein, and the wild inter-dependencies. I found myself a seat on the moon many a night, looking down not only the world below but also myself in it and noticed that my youth is in tact although I’ve reached my late 30’s. I feel younger in many ways than when I first arrived. I can’t help but notice many of my closest friends and family back home have aged instead of growing. Not only physically, mentally, but also in spirit. And understandably so, and I would have too, swimming right alongside them in that fishbowl. So, to the other self-exiled temporary or otherwise, I hope you never second guess your decision to eject based on your lack of material substances in comparison with those back in your home country. Your 401k might be non-existent, but investing in your soul, spirit, intellect is of greater benefit to the world and yourself in the long run me thinks. Friends and family may quickly level you with that pesky “peter-pan complex”, to which I hope you respond with a middle finger….(and an illegal smirk).