Learn the World by Train

On a Train in China…

… recently, and it’s come to feel pretty normal. Even feels rather normal to run an errand by going to Beijing, some 1500 km, 16 hours, on a train. Once again, back to my main interest for this blog: how do you make yourself at home in a strange country. Or, for that matter, in your own, in this world of ours.

After all, only too often, we live as if we were just visiting. Life is short is the attitude, and so people wring as much fun out of it as possible, look for a place that truly feels home, then get bored and start looking for different places, more exciting things, the more perfect partner… I’m sick of it.

I understand and treasure the idea of being a “location-independent professional” able to work wherever you live. Yet, if you don’t put down roots somewhere, at least in this world, you are never going to be at home. And it is a matter of that – not of finding the perfect place that is just right, not of finding the perfect partner, with an eye always over the horizon – and hardly ever seeing where you really are, what your situation actually is. Not least, what person you yourself are.

Learn the World by Train
Learn the World by Train

I have never quite understood that about people who travel just to get places they have been to crossed off their list. Been there, done that – never lived. Nothing against working hard and playing hard, it is a kind of balance. Yet, I think that there is more to a life. Maybe not the “more” that other people seem to be looking for, a something that will just present itself and make life like it is in the movies. (Remember, most people in the movies are just on the sidelines. Maybe even the ones who get killed just to increase the drama. Not everyone’s the hero. In your life, however, you and yours are the main actors – or had better be.)
Having no real interest in where you are, however, that is just sad. And it happens so much, traveling and being home. Do you know where your food comes from? What of it is really of the place where you ate it while traveling, what is native to your own place? Which plants do you find when you just walk out your doors, which of those could be eaten? Who are your neighbors? What’s the history of the place where you live?
There are so many things we don’t know, and if you never ask, you can’t even find if it would interest you. A backyard, a fridge, can hold as many stories as a cathedral, a temple. Computer games may be a lot better at making you feel in control of some aspect of your life, getting better at some skill, but even if it’s fascinating, it still isn’t quite in the real world.
Studying a language and getting to know a different culture, studying history and getting to know your country and society, studying biology and getting to know your backyard – it’s harder, it takes longer to master, but it gets you into the real world. (If you think that all computer games are just stupid, the reverse holds true, too: Get your head in front of that box and check out the virtual world. It’s not all idiots there, either!)

The important thing is this: Learn what you can, find something that interests you, find the interesting things around you, in this world. When it bores you, sorry, but that’s not the world’s fault, it’s yours. So, get crackin’! And learn to live with the boring bits, too. Life’s not just fun and excitement. It’s still what you make of it that matters.

And what's your take?