Tag Archives: Culture

Life is Life

One of these days I’d like to write a book about my experiences out here, and perhaps it’s a mistake to give away the mind-blowing philosophical conclusion now, but who cares – no one’s reading this damn journal anymore anyway! Ready? Here we go:

Life is Life.

What does that mean? It’s simple really: no matter where you go, what you do, what you have, what you don’t have, who you’re with, what you want to be, life boils down to the same basic sequences, needs, and interactions. Put another way – you can change the quality of the TV, but the program will always be the same.

Sounds stupid? Perhaps, but it’s true, and it took me a year abroad and 2 countries stamped into my passport to figure it out. Moving to China has only further reinforced my suspicions.

Before I left America I had visions in my head of what the rest of the world was like. I was giddy with excitement at the idea of setting foot in Japan, or China, or anywhere else I might happen to end up. This is certainly not an uncommon line of thinking. It is human nature to attach – really without basis – some sort of mythical, magical quality to places and things unknown or not yet experienced.

The question I’m asked most frequently by those back in the States is “what’s it like, living in ____?” It’s a question that’s usually posed with heartfelt sincerity, the inquisitor leaning close with a starry look in their eyes as they try to imagine themselves smack in the middle of a picture series they saw in National Geographic or a documentary from the Discovery Channel. When confronted with such hopeful, wistful enthusiasm you cannot possibly give them the honest answer (it’s the same, dude) so you stammer out some anecdotes about funny cultural differences or mix-ups at the outdoor market and such. It’s just a smoke-screen though, a deliberate attempt to continue the romantic mythology surrounding the expat lifestyle.

Life is Life.
You can change the setting, the language, the currency, the religion, but life is still life.

This realization hit me like a lightning bolt to the brain one foggy morning last summer in good ol’ Beppu, Japan. I was in an introspective mood, preparing as I was to leave that wonderful country, and my thoughts wandered to those near and dear back in the States and what they would think if they could see me now… taking out the garbage.

The point of this ramble is not to dissuade you from pursuing a global lifestyle, or to deglamorize such things – quite the contrary. The point of this ramble is to make it clear that no matter where you go, there will always be constants to rely upon, and thus stepping forth into a new culture, a new land, a new country should not be viewed as such an impossibility as I know some of you see it.

Life is Life. There are 194 countries on this planet and in every single one you’ll still take out the garbage, but in every single one that garbage will be a little bit different. Why be satisfied with just one?