No Why


I have come to the realization that I am getting really tired of explaining myself, and my reasons for living overseas. As hard as I try, I can’t actually find a good reason for what I do. By a good reason, I mean one that everyone else thinks is a good reason.

I have been having series of conversations with a family member, and it would seem that they neither get nor approve of my decision to live overseas. The irony of it is that this person is the one I credit with helping to develop the desire I have to travel. They never missed an opportunity to give National Geographics or books about great adventurers.

I could give reasons ‘til I’m blue in the face and I don’t think they would scratch the surface of why I live overseas.  The truth is I’ve wanted to be somewhere else ever since I could walk and I found out that the world is bigger than just Omaha. I feel a certain uncomfortability staying in one place. I despise stagnation.

I think if we get down to it I am the victim of rather the culprit behind my desire to live overseas. I am not saying that I at all feel like a victim, but that I feel the undeniable and inescapable pull of the road. IN the midst of what seems like a chaotic, transient existence, I find my peace. I guess maybe Tolkien was right when said, “Not all who wander are lost.”

When we get down to it, I can’t give a reason for the decisions I’ve made, other than that we all get one life, and this is how I’ve chosen to realize mine. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me, and I am truly at my happiest lost in the chaos of the unfamiliar.

Sure the differences in culture can be annoying. Many cultures never actually say what they mean; leaving you to fill in the blanks of a cultural context you don’t understand. Sure sometimes I end up royally pissed off over some these things. But at the end of the day, I am still happier on the edge of the world than I would be back home in “safety”. “A harbor is a great place for a ship, but ships weren’t meant to stay in the harbor”.

The title for this post comes from a chinglish (English phrases based on Chinese grammar) phrase used by my students when I ask them to explain why something is. Their response is always, “no why”. I think this phrase should become my default response whenever anyone asks “ why do you want live in China?”