Traveling for me is a hobby and not a lifestyle. I know that probably sounds strange to you because I currently live in a foreign country, but it is true. I live in Fukui Japan. My home is here, my job is here, and many of my friends are here. I do not consider my life in Japan as “traveling” I consider it “living” just like you consider your life in your home country as “living.”
I will always consider the United States and Texas my home, but that doesn’t change the fact that currently I live in Japan.
I enjoy traveling as my hobby and whenever I get the opportunity I often visit another country or a new place in Japan that I have never been to before. However, I always return to my home in Japan and my daily routine.
Many bloggers go from country to country, free of worldly restraints living the glamorous life of a nomad. Lately the internet has been buzzing with articles about, “how I travel full time,” “How to pack up everything and travel the world full time,” and “Why you should give up convention and travel.”
Check out these nuggets of wisdom:
While I respect that this kind of lifestyle could resonate with some people, the glamor of the “#Wanderlust” Pinterest board sounds far from ideal.
Have you ever heard the expression “a rolling stone gathers no moss?” I was recently reminded of this expression by a friend of mine and I think it perfectly illustrates why I will never be seduced by a lifestyle of travel.
In the expression, the person who travels and never settles in any one place is a rolling stone. The moss is representative of things of value that last, grow over time, and are full of life. For example relationships, understanding, and knowledge.
After living in Japan for three years, I think I can safely say I’ve gathered a bit of moss. For example, one of my closest Japanese friends is getting married in a few months and she has asked me to help plan her wedding reception (akin to being a bridesmaid in the states). I have gained a working knowledge of the language. I know all the best cafes in Fukui (a VERY important part of my life). I also have a pretty good understanding of how Japanese culture impacts the people here. If that isn’t moss, then I’m not sure what is.
If you are reading this as an avid traveler, you are probably thinking that staying in one place and never exploring the world makes you ignorant and therefore less wise than the person who is never in the same city for more than 2 weeks.
It is a fair argument and I sorta agree. There is an old Chinese proverb that another ALT taught me when I first arrived that says “a frog in a well knows nothing of the great ocean.” (井の中の蛙大海を知らず) This frog has spent his whole life in a well perfectly content thinking he lives in the most beautiful and perfect home completely blind to the possibility of there being more to life.
It is a beautiful expression for sure and I agree with it to an extent, but how much worldly wisdom do you actually accumulate living from a suitcase anyway? When I am a tourist in a new country, I try to gain as much understanding of the place as I can, but nothing can compare to being a part of the community. When I return home from a 1-week vacation to a new country, I am more likely to bring souvenirs in my suitcase that 3 weeks later I wish I hadn’t bought than a new perspective on life or new wisdom. I’m not saying being a tourist or travel isn’t fun, it is. But fun is almost always the only thing it is.
I think gathering a bit of moss is a good thing. Having a deep connection to a place, a deep relationship with a person, or a deep understanding or wisdom is enviable. I am writing about this now to try and explain why I have decided to stay a fourth year in Japan. America is my home and I miss everything about my home. I will return there because I believe ultimately it is my place in the world and where I belong. However, I guess I am trying to live somewhere between these two expressions.
I do expect this fourth year to be my last before returning to America. I am sad to leave Japan, but happy to have finally made a decision and ready for a long reunion with many friends and family (and Mexican food). Until then I’ll be here in Fukui gathering as much moss as I can.