When I look back to my emerging years and think of all the friends who talked about eventually living abroad, and now realize that I am the only one who has accomplished this, it underlines for me the amazing reality of my becoming an expat. There is no doubt that Panama is a booming small country set in a tropical wonderland replete with two oceans, rain forests, jungles, many islands, indigenous Indian tribes, and perhaps the greatest engineering feat of the 20th Century.
What makes me sigh with pleasure, however, is none of these advantages, though I thoroughly enjoy them. No, it's the pleasure of living in a cosmopolitan small town with tall buildings and world class restaurants and in a neighborhood that is a cornucopia of new sights and smells and sounds to explore as I walk around. The last time I enjoyed living in this kind of neighborhood was in Greenwich Village in the 1970s when I worked at NBC in New York. Instead of a fourth floor walk-up, I'm on the 11th floor of a luxury high rise tower, but it's the street that calls out to me in the same way.
I took a moment today to reflect on one of the strongest human desires--to stand out in a crowd, to be noticed for something different, doing something unique. So many people spend so many years trying to make their mark when it could be so easy, just move to a new country and you will definitely not qualify for one of the 21st Century's most pejorative terms, "sheeple". The Urban Dictionary describes this as people who cannot think for themselves, who have a herd mentality. When you are living in a totally new culture, and don't even yet speak the native language, there is such an awareness of every sensory sensation available that one begins living the difference in a new and profound way.
This can only intensify and accelerate in the coming months as I start my first Spanish classes, work on the first English language stand up comedy performance in Panama, explore the other parts of the country, and come out of the cocoon of the language barrier and my current ignorance of a lot of what is normal and appropriate in this Latin culture.
Perhaps it is ironic that as I moved out of the U.S., I felt less out of touch. I didn't realize how much of a rut I was in until I leapt out of it.
Do your own leaping in terms of prosperity by checking out my other blog: http://MoneyloveBlog.com