“Don’t you love your own county/”
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked that very question. Much to my surprise, it is usually done with a straight face. Hey. Can’t please everybody.
Well, here’s the thing – you will never feel more “named nationality” than when you leave. I am more American now than ever. Being out of that comfort zone has made me so aware of the what, where and why I come from. Being away from my default norms makes me that much more aware of them. Their very absence makes them even more real.
“People who don’t travel cannot have a global view, all they see is what’s in front of them. Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live.” -Martin Yan
I have lived under several other flags and have enjoyed those stays immensely. There, I had time for reflection on what makes an American an “American.” Those reflections are for another time, but noting them down in a vis-a-vis fashion helped me both adjust and cope with new surroundings. It helped me tailor my Do’s and Don’ts. It also helped me realize and acknowledge that one size does not fit all. American model/solutions will not work everywhere.
The joke is – many do not work there either. But, I had to distance myself in order to see.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”- Lin Yutang
When I live in the US, it isn’t boredom that gets me. I am rarely bored. The problem is that I get complacent. I am always interested in what’s over the next hill. What if you’ve already been over that hill? Then what? Re-runs of Mad Men? Great program, but I can’t remain in that wondrously comfy chair forever.
The thing is, at least in my mind, nationality isn’t about real estate. It isn’t about where you live. It is more the How. Do you have core values ingrained below the surface? Of course, you do. They help you refine and take in whatever your environment is. Then you add the necessary context required, depending on locality and its culture.
Do not get me wrong, I love going home to visit. And I eat. And eat.
Now, travel does open your eyes, you don’t necessarily need to leave the national boundaries or region. I’ve been to 45 out of 50 US states and more than half the provinces of Canada. I’ve made it a point to do so. There are a multitude of cultures to be explored in North America. There are plenty of mind-blowing natural wonders to be experienced. Life is simply not a beach.
I suggest to people that they’ll become whatever their template says, PLUS when they experience other places and things. It is just another tool in your box. The only thing to lose are your blinders. So, get a passport. Buy an airline ticket. Get in your car. Just go.
In the process of discovering some place new, you’ll learn about who and where you are from. Warts and all.
p.s. I am booking tickets for a vacation at home. I can already taste the pizza and cannoli.