A long flight back, 10 hours instead of the usual 7, landing in Amsterdam with the new year’s dawn. I think I got about 2 hours sleep, interspersed with work, reading, and movies. And, since I got bumped up, also with a steak, unlimited wine, and a flat bed, thank you, KLM. At 115,000 air miles, I was only a little short of Diamond status again this year, but well over a million miles banked for a vacation.
I studied the darkness outside the airplane, thinking about my 3-legged aspiration to entrepreneurial success, expatriate travel and a close relationship. While a 3-legged stool is always stable, I don’t have any assurance that gaining two doesn’t preclude the third in my unusual situation.
It’s unsettling that my measure of business and expat success is the degree to which I learn to do things on my own, understanding Dutch train announcements and UK regulatory requirements. It doesn’t bode well for relationships if they have to mesh naturally with that.
At the same time, my most fulfilling experiences as an expat or entrepreneur have been the shared ones, whether successfully traversing a development process or a travel plan together. I can’t imagine life without a close relationship.
I sighed, turned on the reading light, asked for a glass of dessert wine, and started reading. New Years is always a time for making lists (and for keeping them), and the papers and magazines were filled with them. ‘A few of the best:
- 25 regrets that should be corrected while there’s still time. I’m happy that I only seriously regret five of the 25, but they are all big deals to me. ‘Things that I feel like I could have avoided, should have, but are now likely lost forever.
There was a time that I would enumerate and discuss further on these pages but have discovered, to my regret, that words on a personal blog can return in unexpected ways. I am, however, quite happy to share these thoughts in close conversation should you wish (and, quite recently, have).
- 44 things learned while wandering Europe (for only 7 months!). I am best at 26 (New experiences make me happier than new objects) and 37 (Confront your fears), but need to work on 18 (Accept the things I cannot change) and 35 (Find momentary happiness by enjoying the present moment).
I think he missed the importance of Experiencing the world through other’s eyes, and of Recognizing that Different is not Wrong. And, ultimately, I do aspire to 39: Look at travel, and love, as a journey, and you’ll never be disappointed, regardless of where you end up.
- 10 stressful things to avoid. I fell into at least half of these deadly sins last year, and, unfortunately, his list is far from complete. I would add ‘Not taking time to listen without judgement’, ‘Keeping too many options open while deferring commitment’, and ‘Believing that all hopes can come true’, as some personal stresses.
Some people say I’ve grown harder in the past six months.
Maybe, but I had a long reality-check conversation and know that I didn’t drift all the way to becoming a cynic.
Because I never lost faith that most people really do deserve trust, time, and hopes. Because I rediscovered that pausing and reaching out to pull someone closer, to listen and to care, must outweigh the rush to get ahead or the impulse to insulate myself. Because I know that What did you think I said? is better than I think that you’ve misunderstood me.
Some people say I’ve grown harder in the past six months, but those who know me best know I’ve gone softer.
It’s a good change, among many.