Friday, February 4, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality...

Like an old song from the 1990s (or maybe it was the 1980s) normality has descended upon me and I find myself sitting in Busselton in Western Australia on a Friday afternoon settling in for the next four months.

My last post on Blogger was yet another report on a cycle excursion through the back blocks of Taiwan.  It has been months and months since I wrote the last post on this fine virtual journal.  I couldn't possibly go on without first explaining to nobody in particular why I may as well be writing about the life of a completely different individual.

I was living and working overseas for about five years, first in South Korea and then in Taiwan.  There are plenty of expatriates who have adopted these countries as their homes for the foreseeable future for reasons I can guess at; perhaps they just don't want to return to their own country; perhaps they enjoy a better standard of living in their host country; perhaps they have an ongoing relationship or have married a resident of their host nation.  These are all understandable reasons and I can empathize with the sentiments behind all of them.  However, in the case of Andrea and I, continuing to live and work as English teachers overseas became an unsustainable future.  These days the word unsustainable immediately brings to mind ecological and environmental associations.  Forests might serve as a useful metaphor for describing what I mean when I use the word unsustainable in reference to our lives overseas (then again, they might not; I haven't really thought this through).  For healthy forests you need a rich foundation (the soils) and an adequate ongoing supply of all the inputs that forests need (sunlight, water, air, etc).  Our roots reach into community to anchor us and keep us upright.  But community was something that we lacked and had a hard time establishing and maintaining in our host countries and we were also a long way away from our families.  And so our foundation was weak.  As for receiving an adequate ongoing supply of prerequisite inputs, we missed easy access to nature and natural environments; we yearned for the opportunity to explore our interests by joining local clubs and making new friends; we lacked for a deeper engagement with the society in which we participated, partly due to a poor grasp of the dominant language and also partly due to cultural differences.  We weren't getting a full and adequate supply of holistic nutrients that we needed to sustain us long-term.  Our forests looked okay at first glance but a closer examination would reveal that there were serious deficiencies and that the forest was not as healthy as it appeared.

One other serious reason for not wanting to remain any longer in Taiwan was that we would like to be able to start a family and be able to provide good support for children.  Being an English teacher might pay the bills and allow DINKs to have some fun but it's not a career move that provides a good foundation for a family.

So we finished our contracts with our respective schools and came to Australia to start the rest of our lives.

There's a lot more to say about all this but it will have to wait because I have a dinner date with destiny.


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