Two years ago today we left Delhi and arrived in Hong Kong to start a new chapter of our life. Five years ago, on the same date, we left London for Delhi, with a mix of anticipation, excitement and not a little sorrow. Ten years ago, at this time of year we were living in […]
Two years ago today we left Delhi and arrived in Hong Kong to start a new chapter of our life. Five years ago, on the same date, we left London for Delhi, with a mix of anticipation, excitement and not a little sorrow. Ten years ago, at this time of year we were living in Sydney, remodelling our newly bought home, pondering a possible move away from our childhood home and having only the slightest inkling of what the future held and what being a global nomad might be.
What amazes me at each of these transitions is how radically my patterns of life have changed. Not so much the everyday things, I still love to read, to cook, to find good places to eat and drink coffee. Rather, it’s the bigger things. I was a pastor, then a chaplain; lecturer, then student; I traded the Gym for the golf course and now I do neither. I almost gave up playing guitar and now it consumes almost every spare moment.
This year has been teaching me how tired my stories have become, especially those I tell about myself. I was a pastor, but I’m not now. What does that mean? I don’t know. I was an academic, but I’m not now. I don’t know what that means either. I’m a musician now (of a sort), but will that hold the next time we move? I don’t know. Perhaps I could go back to any of these – or not. In all humility, I’ve done a decent job at all three, but not for very long.
And, therein lies the problem. Being a global nomad is an amazing experience, but it’s tough to anchor your identity, or vocation in this life – especially if you are the trailing spouse. It’s even harder if you are a male trailing spouse. For the past three years I’ve worked to get around this by building an identity that is portable – writer and musician – yet still aligned with what I understand to be my calling in life.
That sounds great in abstraction, but the reality is that where you work matters a great deal to how you work. Even a portable and modular career needs space, networks, support and inspiration to thrive. You can’t find those anywhere and sometimes it’s hard not to jealous of those who live in places where they are more abundant.