People Fall Into Two Categories

People fall into one of two categories when you tell them you’re moving to New Zealand.

They either get it or they don’t.

One group of people’s responses fall in the following categories: “Why are you moving there?” “What’s there?” “What for?” “Huh.” “Why?”

The appropriate answer to all these responses is “Because it’s not here where there are people like you!”

Or how the guy who painted our house kept repeating, “Well, have a good time in the Netherlands.”

“No, we’re going to New Zealand.”

And a few minutes later, he’d say Netherlands again.

“No, it’s New Zealand!”

“The Netherlands?”

When I told Randy, the barber I had been going to for years, I was moving to New Zealand and mentioned it would be winter there in what was now our summer, he responded, “they have winter there?” When I told him that indeed they did, but since it was the southern hemisphere, it was opposite ours, he looked even more confused.

“Does it last the same number of months as ours?”

“Yes,” I said, “except it’s in June, July and August.”

This was too much for him. He went back to cutting my hair.

Many people, particularly in the United States, don’t even realize there is another world out there. They believe the sun rises and sets everywhere over Wal-Marts and McDonalds with the background drone of televisions, cellphones ringing and car alarms going off. Even world news reflects some almost make-believe world out there far away and unrelated to their lives, more a curiosity rather than a place populated with living breathing people like themselves. People here often scrunch up their faces when told how others live different than them. “How can they do that?” “Why do they do that?” As if the cozy little cocoon that is America, while great, somehow has a monopoly on how people should live their lives.

For some people, it scares them when people do something radical or different particularly after a certain age. It’s threatening. They look at their own lives and see themselves doing the same things year after year after year. They don’t want to think about it. Those are the people who generally don’t like looking at people like us too closely. Or like a neighbor told us, “You know, I’ve seen people sell their house and then things fell through. You can’t be too careful.” I say if someone sells their house and then things fall through, then at least that person tried something.  They took a risk. They did something. There are always plenty of excuses not to do something new or different—sound reasons, fair reasons, and ones no one could argue against.

Rebecca and I are fortunate to have this window in our lives when we can do something different and choose to. At the same time I understand that there are lots of people who can’t move or do anything. They have jobs and responsibilities, families and houses and bills to pay or they just simply don’t want to go anywhere. Fair enough.

Then there is the second group of people who just plain get it. They’re happy for you. Often envious—they’ll miss you—but at the same time happy for you. They really don’t care if you’re going to Spain or South America or even if you’re just quitting your job and going to throw pottery (although New Zealand is a cool place to say you’re going to).

They get it. You’re going somewhere. You’re doing something. You’re living your own life. You’re shaking things up. You’re breaking free for a moment or longer. They are like you inside and whether they end up doing crazy things too, they remain fellow co-conspirators in life, and only a spark away from making some crazy choice in their own lives.

After all it’s really not about going to New Zealand, you know. It is but it isn’t. New Zealand is a beautiful interesting place but it also just represents something. New Zealand is a metaphor for realizing that now and again in life you have to shake things up or you are going to become irrevocably STUCK where you are for the rest of your life. Like weighing things on a pair of scales, after awhile the weight of doing nothing and remaining where are far outweighs any risk, loss of money, job, family or friends that the going might entail.

And fun. Isn’t that another and perhaps the main reason for doing things that is sometimes forgotten? Moving to New Zealand, it will be fun.

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