Although there’s a certain reverence, even dignity, that commands respect when one is born and buried in the same zip code, there is something to be said for a little adventure sprinkled onto life outside of the creature comforts afforded by what we consider home.
Relocating is one way to explore what might have been. What if we said yes to that opportunity right after college to live in Bolivia for three months? What if we said yes to a 27-month stint with the Peace Corps in Mauritania? What if we said yes to meeting that stranger in Tokyo after chatting briefly in an airport coffee shop?
A Stowaway on the Sister Ship
Swedish poet, Thomas Gösta Tranströmer, celebrated for his captivating description of life, nature, routine, and rhythm penned a poem titled, “The Blue House.” Tranströmer writes beautifully about the counterfactuals—the lives we could have lived. The what ifs:
“Every life has a sister ship, one that follows quite another route than the one we ended up taking. We want it to be otherwise, but it cannot be: the people we might have been live a different, phantom life than the people we are. I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore…”
At some point in our lives we all take pause—take stock, if you will—of where we have ended up. Relocation, however impermanent, affords us the privilege and permission to explore the what ifs. To board the Sister Ship of our counterfactual life and imagine a life beyond our own present existence.
But why would we do such a thing? We have families, we have obligations, we have mortgages and debt and guilt and fear and all the rest of it. Here’s why: the only journeys we regret are the ones we never take. Not to impose an insufferable moral platitude here but it’s a concept worth contemplation.
Relocation doesn’t need to be permanent (indeed, is anything, ever?). There’s a relief knowing a ticket is refundable, certain visas only lasts three months, and a business venture abroad can be wound up without losing your shirt.
There are many reasons a person, a family, a legal entity may want to relocate: for education, for love, for work, for family, for taxes, for no reason at all other than urge.
Whatever the reason, there are myriad options at our fingertips—from long-term Digital Nomad Visas in Costa Rica and Estonia to full blown immigration pathways by way of a startup (Canada) or investment (New Zealand), to name a few.
There’s a certain freedom and a certain safety in staying put; but there is a certain richness to life when we look at it as a tire on a bicycle. There is the center, which is our beginning, our anchor, our familiarity. But then there are the spokes all around us. The places we boomerang to, the places we dabble in, or even the places we settle in permanence. The point is the potential is here and now to relocate, to tempt fate and beg for transformation, for experience, for feeling uncomfortable.
Would you board the Sister Ship, if only in brief?
This article is a Relocate Community Article written by Ashlee Stetser, Content & Community Director for Relocate.