When I moved to Amsterdam, I did what everyone moving abroad was doing: seeking a better life, having more opportunities with a prospect for a better future. Well, this is the rule at least: always striving for better. More opportunities. Better lifestyle. Different priorities. Or?
Today there are exactly 3 years since I have made this major change in my life and looking back I realise how much has happened, how much I have changed and how my priorities have shifted. Funnily enough, having the different cultural experiences turned out not be better. Just different. Better in some aspects, worse in others, but most of the times it’s just confusing. Indeed I have many opportunities right now and I can try out many things, experimenting and finding out what I really enjoy doing, but nothing compares to the peace I am gaining every time I return home. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my childhood when I didn’t have many responsibilities and everything was taken care of. But also because life here is pretty much predictable. The path is quite linear: you study, study a bit more, start working, climb the career ladder sometimes in the same company. Parallel you start building a family, you save for retirement, go on planned holidays once or twice a year if you have the opportunity and, in very general lines, this is pretty much it.
In the collectivistic environment I grew up in, there were not so many learning opportunities and there was not much focus on self-development. Of course back then it seemed like a bad thing, but now if I think of it, having so many opportunities and options is not easier. Most of the Western society is pretty much on the top of Maslow’s pyramid, at least this is what I have experienced. Having everything, living in comfort, there is nothing left but to reflect on higher purposes in life, thinking how to solve big world problems and looking for ways of self-actualization. It can become overwhelming however: there is always the pressure of missing something out and there is THE endless chase.
Once a goal is achieved, another one arises and it continues in an endless vicious circle. However, there is never enough of anything. It seems to me we have forgotten to be grateful for what we have and we are constantly living somewhere in the future. ‘Once I achieve this, I will be happy.’
But it never works. Happiness is a state of mind and we give success too much credit. It cannot be defined. It means different things for different people, thus there is no right path to follow.
After a few months of diving back into the Eastern philosophy through the brilliance of Alan Watts’ words of finding peace and praising the present moment, I have realised that so many of us choose the linear, predictable and safe road postponing their dreams and passions for later. But there is never a right timing for anything. Either you do it now or never, either you feel like it or not.
Of course there is more risk, but we only live once. Is it worth it to spend the now doing something you are not enjoying? Is it fulfilling to work on something you are not passionate about, just because it might give you some opportunities later? After all there is no right way of living. The only right way is yours. Follow your dreams, practice your passion. Take risks and enjoy the journey.