“Hey, it’s me. Lunch is almost ready. Where are you?”
“I’m… um… It doesn’t matter where I am. I’ll be home in about ten minutes.”
I was out running errands when my wife called, and in truth it didn’t matter where I was at the moment. But that’s not why I hesitated.
I didn’t know where I was. Well, that’s not totally accurate. I had decided to walk home through a neighborhood I’d never visited before. I was aware of my general location and direction, and I had a sense of how long it would take to be sitting at the dining-room table… so I didn’t need to know my exact coordinates to enjoy my spontaneous exploration.
It’s such a small episode, but one that illustrates how much my approach to life has changed since I moved overseas three years ago.
I’m guessing my old world wasn’t that much different from the way your days go now:
Waking up… getting ready for work… going to work… working… coming home from work…having dinner—maybe spending a little time watching TV… going to bed… waking up… and so on, so on.
Then, after spending a “relaxing” weekend crammed with chores and errands, well, you know…
The mindset of Western culture is built around a relentless pursuit of the future. Your poor brain is crammed with a zillion things you feel like you need to do—and there never seems to be enough time. The pressure to get ahead, save money, balance the roles of parent and provider, and somehow sneak a little enjoyment in somewhere is numbing.
Several years ago I got knocked off the hamster wheel of “striving and never arriving.” One of the countless victims of downsizing, my successful career vanished overnight. I was stunned to discover that lucrative employment opportunities for folks my age had also disappeared, and I found myself facing a crossroads I hadn’t anticipated.
Should I “keep on keepin’ on,” as I had always done in the past? Or was there another way?
Spending the best years I had left chasing an uncertain future seemed too great of a risk and too high a price to pay.
I decided to start living my life now.
My wife and I relocated to Cuenca, Ecuador three years ago and have never looked back.
Sure, we visit our family in the States several times a year, but the life we’ve created here has surpassed all expectations.
The stress is gone. We’ve learned to be thankful for what we have. And perhaps most importantly, we celebrate today—every day.
I know it’s too easy to be lulled into complacency when your life is on cruise control. Had the winds of change not blown in my direction I would most likely still be grinding it out in Las Vegas right now. Ironically what seemed at the time to be terrible misfortune has turned out to be a remarkable blessing.
If the end of your rainbow seems to keep getting farther away I encourage you to get off the road to nowhere and take a firm grip on the wheel of your life. Steer yourself in a direction that allows you to enjoy each moment of the journey.
Don’t wait for adversity like mine. Consciously do it now. Because, let’s face it, right now is the only time you ever really have.
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