The quoted picture above is the view from the balcony of our hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ve always wanted to travel. I never had a clear timeline for when it would actually happen. Many of us have a lot of dreams and wishes. We spend more time fantasizing about our dreams and wishes to happen and less time creating a plan of action to turn them into reality. Some people allow life to carry them like a limp fish in the ocean. I know I have. A few months before visiting Puerto Rico, I decided to teach English in Thailand. Many people have asked me the same questions: why Thailand, why teaching and why now?
I was 16 when I was pregnant with my son. I gave birth to him at the age of 17. Time flew fast like the spin of a wheel of fortune game at a Vegas casino. He turned 18 quicker than I imagined. In September of 2016, he’ll be entering college.
In a few months, I will be a 35-year-old empty nester. The decision to teach in Thailand didn’t come easy. At the time I was a real estate agent, trying to make it work. I thought to myself, “When my son goes to college, I can work even harder, and quickly make more money.” Then I had a deeply insightful conversation with S. She said, “F, you’ve been a parent since you were 16. You’ve never lived alone. You’ve always cared for someone else. The time has come for you to explore yourself and the world.”
Hearing those words scared me. The thought of doing something unreal and unfamiliar created huge knots in my stomach. I chased real estate because of a strong desire to create wealth. I also couldn’t forget the massive student loan debt that I accumulated from receiving two degrees.
After completing the interview process and solidifying my teaching abroad opportunity, my father passed away unexpectedly. My father is the hardest working person I know. In fact, he nearly worked himself to death. Literally. He never did enjoy the fruits of his labor. My father planned every aspect of his life. It saddens me greatly that he didn’t get to live the future that he planned. I miss his sense of humor, his sass, and his words of wisdom.
At that moment I knew two truths: life is impermanent, and the future doesn’t exist.
My initial decision was to teach in Mexico. S said, “You can go to Mexico anytime, why not travel to the other side of the Earth?”
There goes that knot again. I am learning that if something is that scary, then do it.
Here are the 5 reasons why I chose to travel and teach in Thailand:
1) The adventure. The furthest I have ever been.
2) It’s the 5th friendliest country.
3) It’s beautiful.
4) Buddhism. I’ve been exploring my spirituality and Buddhism is currently resonating with me.
5) I absolutely love Thai food. Is that shallow of me?
Why did I decide to teach versus travel? I wanted to travel with a purpose and wanted to reconnect with humanity. As I grow older, I feel pulled deeper towards service. Not career based but just as a way of life. I’m at a juncture in my life where I am searching to reconnect with the missing bits of me. The bits that I rejected years ago when I left my career as a social worker. The timing to move feels right. My soul feels at ease with this decision.
Life isn’t permanent. The present is all that exists. The future is great to aspire to, but it isn’t where we live. Life is there to bring people joy and meaning. There are crazy and hard lessons to learn. Never wonder about life. If there is something that is pulling you: I urge you to do it. Now. Waiting is equivalent to a slow death. Hence my quote above: Decide. Go. Do. Never wonder.