The question raised a couple of times in Christmas card notes this year, in notes from friends, and in conversations back home. “Were you always such a risk-taker?” wrote one. It took some thought to make a reply.
The truth is that I don’t see what I’m doing, living and starting a business overseas, as particularly risky. I’ve lived in Europe for years’ I think that I know how to do it. The procedures for getting visas or registering a company are straightforward and take more effort than brains. Life among the Dutch (or, occasionally, the British) is different, but not impossibly so: I think that the differences are usually stimulating and usually fun. I can cope.
And solving problems builds confidence. In the beginning, finding the word for “drycleaner” or discovering where to buy a mousetrap took a day of trial and error. I knew that if I was methodical and persistent, I’d figure it out, and there was benefit in having patience to wrestle it down to a successful answer (stomerij and “the pet store:”, respectively).
The downside is also manageable. If the business fails or the residence permit is denied, I move and find a new job. Experience gained will, hopefully, be a plus in recovering. And, as a friend once observed, when everyone is sitting around the lunchtable swapping war stories, I’ll have some especially good ones.
So I don’t really see this as a tremendous risk. I understand what needs to be done. I can handle the setbacks and the disasters. What looks like an extreme midlife crisis is, in fact, a way of living a life that I always wanted to live.
It’s not perfect, but it’s not crazy.
(It is, however, hard on relationships.)