Saturday, 2 February 2013

Living abroad is like escaping the Matrix


You begin in a humdrum, banal existence, allowing the system to shape you as it sees fit, yet always believing that somewhere out there, there exists something so much more exciting and profound; a deeper truth, perhaps. You long to escape, finally managing to do so with either the help of a mysterious stranger or of your own power, but either way, nobody can force you; regardless of your reasons, it's a leap of faith that comes purely of your own volition.

You emerge, eyes bleary with amniotic fluid, into a futuristic-looking world you've never seen before, and are likely only able to avoid instantly drowning thanks to the intervention of a small group of veteran operatives who then induct you into your new society. Some will be only too happy to share of the knowledge they have acquired over the years, most will be indifferent, and some will be openly hostile, viewing your very existence as an intrusion. All of them, however, will have long ago adjusted – with varying degrees of success – to the realities of your new home.

It will be composed largely of people who were born in this strange and alien landscape, and who will never see the place you came from outside of a television monitor. As a result, they'll never quite grasp what life is really like in your country, and may even distrust your explanations, lacking as they are in firsthand experience. It will be even harder for them to understand how jarring it is to have given up your entire world and been thrust into a new one. Instead, it's incumbent upon you to adjust to their thinking and way of life, even if you have difficulty understanding it. You'll always be counted among a minority anyway; after all, your ability to interface with that aforementioned parallel reality of which they know so little means that your employment will always place you in a special position in society.

In fact, you may find it difficult not to develop a bias of your own. You may grow to resent the people among whom you now live, who were effectively born without the opportunity to learn what you now know. Or maybe you'll go the other way, and scoff at the bluepills who spend their entire lives in a warm cocoon, never venturing outside it to see the real world.

As you advance, you're be amazed at the very skills you yourself acquire. You soon find yourself capable of feats you never would have thought possible, least of all from yourself. At times, you almost feel like a superhero, risking your life and undertaking missions on an almost daily basis. More important, however, is the knowledge you have acquired. It could almost be said that you've achieved a new level of understanding humanity, fallibility, the frightening proximity of human mortality, self-dependence, and the nature of struggle. With any luck, you're able to apply this to your own life and not only become a better person, but learn to better protect your loved ones as well. Perhaps, even amongst the craziness that has become your day-to-day, you begin to scrape out a measure of true...happiness?

On the other hand, you might grow to regret your decision. You'll wish you never left. You'll wish, in fact, that you could be reinserted, your memory wiped, and you'd all but make a deal with the devil in order to do it. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Once you know, you can never un-know. Some fever dreams never quite leave you. If you look to thrive in your new life, this is the enemy you must always fight.

That, and the army of robotic squid who are always trying to kill you.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this post. I found it very informative and helpful. I am moving abroad in the summer for a job that was too good to pass up. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I still need to look up international shipping companies to get my car over there. Hopefully my experience will go a lot like you have described.

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    1. Not sure if this is advertising or not, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and thank you for reading! Good luck in Japan - it can certainly be daunting, but if you go into it with the right attitude, you'll have a great time.

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