358 days, that is how long I have been away from home, 358 days in a perpetual haze (sure a self inflicted hops haze but a haze no less), 358 days of new cultural experiences, 358 days of the excitement of not knowing what the next day will bring. These 358 days might take another 358 for me to truly understand what I have gone through and to sift through the life lessons that I have learned but that is OK with me. In some ways, that is what my latest Stockholm adventure was about, taking me out of my daily routine and letting me to begin to decompress. My friend Robin, who is going through a life altering experience down in Argentina, asked me if I had mixed emotions about leaving Germany and returning to the States. The answer to that is of course but I think that the key word in the question he poses is “mixed emotions.” A lot of the people I know here and have met wonder only if I am going to be sad and miss Europe. I always answer these questions with a yes, naturally I am going to miss it; how could you not miss the experiences of walking down the D-Day beaches of Normandie, The Oktoberfest, Weiß Wurst and a Hefeweizen for breakfast, driving on the Autobahn, caving in Budapest, clubbing in Prague, singing karaoke in an Irish bar in a little town in Germany, thanksgiving in Florence, and all the other debacles (experiences) that I have undertaken. I will always carry these memories with me, but I have come to realize that I am not meant to be in Germany any more.
So if I am not supposed to be in Germany any more, then where am I supposed be? That my friends I can not answer but this one thought keeps jumping into my head: Before you can figure out where you are supposed to be, to finally be comfortable where you are at if you will, you must first figure out who you are because how can you expect to find where you belong if you don’t know who you are? That’s the crux of my situation, often you hear about people who take off to exotic destinations to find themselves as if suddenly one day the clouds will part and a voice will call down in some sort of divine voice, “This is who you are, go forth and don’t forget to tithe 10%”. (Knowing myself, I would think it was a dream and wonder if I had mistakenly rolled over onto the remote for the television and Pat Robertson was screwing me with). I believe that it is all of our life’s little experiences that contribute to our sense of who we are and we take these new experiences for what they are worth and incorporate them into ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have parents that recognize that I have wandering feet and support me in my journey of finding where I belong ( I get my hippie ways from my mother). I know it can be frustrating for them at times wondering if I will ever settle down but I know I will, eventually.
I think I have a good sense of who am I, but who is that? Am I the guy who can drink 5 maßes, and still have enough sense about me to drop one liners (albeit never politically correct ones) at 3am in the morning? Am I the easy going, fun loving, crazy American intern who was given the name “Joshy Bear” by the French interns? Perhaps I am “Josh Clooney” as dubbed by the karaoke guys at the Irish Bar (because of the slight resemblance, come one; tell me you haven’t ever noticed it). Maybe I am the “thumb” ninja (long story) who won’t hesitate to use them with sound effects and all if you step out of line. This is how my friends here see me, what they don’t see is the part of me that has drive and determination to be successful (I’ve been hiding it under my laid back SoCal persona). The importance I place on family, my ingrained sense of patriotism (I hate talking politics with Europeans) and justice. I think you get the point, and those of you that know me best could I am sure, come up with a few more. I understand that it takes time to cultivate new relationships and I value all of the friendships that I have started in these 358 days but I am excited to go home to the people who know me best. Excited to get to know them again and to see how they have grown and for them to see how I have grown (for better or worse).
I guess what my 358 days come down to is this:
- Don’t be afraid of wandering feet or the “Bohemian Lifestyle” (I stole this from Mike Cando, thanks my brother).
- Travel somewhere out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t have to be an exotic location, it could be Ohio, but do so with an open mind and reflect on what you have learned.
- If you feel the need for a change, don’t shy away from it, embrace it, through adversity we truly come to know ourselves.
- Most importantly, do not zealously look for where you are “supposed to be” because you can forget to enjoy where you are at.
So go forth my friends and let us seek new counsel in this wonderful mysterious world we live. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson,
“No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.”