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I was reading Sarah's blog recently and it made me consider what I've learned this year.  I think my life has seen some fairly major upheavals over the past 365 days, but I think I've been even more reflective than I usually am.  So -

1.  I don't want to live out my entire life in Canada.

Sure, I was terribly homesick by the end of my time in Japan.  But within two weeks of being back and seeing my friends and family, I could have left again.  I wanted a giant poutine, I wanted to walk on grass, I wanted to wear jeans with ragged bottoms and have no makeup on.  But after having those things, I looked around and realized Canada isn't better or worse than any other place I've been to.  It's got a lot of wonderful things to be sure, but it also annoys me in a lot of ways.  I'm not sure if it's because I've been in a country where people are fairly quiet about the good qualities they have, but I find people here have this obnoxious, morally superior attitude that annoys me.  We are so beautiful.  We have health care.  We allow gay marriages.  We have women rights.  That coupled along with the culture of "you have said something that I disagree with, I am offended, you cannot offend me, OFFENSE!  OFFENSE!  OFFENDED!" without consideration to the "offender's" intent drives me up the wall. I find it sets up a rather bad expectation - the world revolves around you and your values.  And while it would be lovely if the world could accommodate everyone's viewpoint, some values just simply clash with one another, and I feel like Canada is heading to a point where it's going to choose the route of everyone is equal over keeping the qualities that actually make it a nice place to live.  I find people live side by side with no cohesion, and I felt that doubly in Toronto.   But of course, any country is going to have a downside.  However:

2.  The only time I am not somewhat bored is when I'm in another country.

England will have its faults to be sure.  I've definitely noticed that Dan spends more time than I ever would talking about class, "poshness", and making fun of upper class accents, which is somewhat off putting.  Other English "English" teachers in Japan did this at well.  When I went to England, I found people fairly self contained and not as open as the average Canadian, not to mention the food was god awful.  But I know my brain will be moving again - I like getting to a country and not knowing how things work.  The money is different, people think differently to me, they talk about different things.  The houses look different and people do different things for pleasure.  And I know being interested doesn't wear off...in Japan I felt like I understood how things worked much better after 6 months, and after a while I didn't want to visit anymore temples, but I was always interested in how people could think so differently to me, and the things they considered important.  But none of this could happen if I didn't...

3  Surround myself with good people.

I think Japan became difficult at the end because I had no one.  I felt a million miles away from Jason and the few friends I made would keep leaving.  It's given me pause to think about how I interact with people, and especially consider my ideas on the individual and on the group.  I still agree with putting individual versus group needs first, but I think I've also mellowed towards the idea that it's OK to be somewhat dependent.  As I see it, Canadians tend to have this mentality that you need to be a fully independent, operating machine, who could survive without anyone.  Christ, you're not supposed to even consider getting married until you have everything in your life sorted - career, finances, personal fulfillment.  And when you're halfway through your life, you're supposed to magically tack on someone who has also operated for the first 30 or so years of their life putting what they want first, then throw yourself into a situation where you'll have to start making compromises.  Don't get me wrong, career, finances and all that stuff are great.  But since we have birth control kicking around, I think it would be worthwhile to consider that two people leaning on each other, and learning to do so earlier on rather than later might be advantageous.

I need people.  I've never felt more alone in the world than when my parents told me they wouldn't help me a month back.  Ayn Rand's idea of a person who functions in complete independence with no one is still retarded to me.  But anyways, after my parent's letter, and after seeing how busy my friends from high school and university were, I sort of realized how terrifyingly small my social circle is.  I know I'll have Dan and his friends when I get there, but I've already done a few things that will put me in a position to meet people - I've already joined a yoga class, a book club, and a general social group...in Northampton.  

4. I need a job I can do anywhere, that is useful, and that I don't mind.  I don't need to love it.

I need a job that I can do from anywhere because maybe 5 years from now I'll want to move back to Canada (doubtful though it is), or even somewhere else.  Things might not work out with Dan.  I need to feel like what I am doing legitimately improves something - this was my one fear with my teaching - I never had any idea if my students were actually learning.  With editing, you find a mistake and you correct it.  Something written is improved.  Also, I'm 28, and this great love I'm supposed to find over an interest hasn't happened, unless you count reading psychology studies, which doesn't really lend itself to a career.  I would also possibly like children one day and it would be wonderful if I could stay at home with them.  Now, I just need to hope I have a smidgen of talent.

5. Dylan Moran shares a terrifying amount of my life views, and helps me clarify my own thoughts.

Dylan Moran is an Irish comedian.  He looks like he stumbled out of a dumpster most of the time - disheveled clothes, hair all over the place, cigarette in one hand and drink in the other.  He's not the one person I'd pick out of a line up if I was choosing a new best friend randomly.  But I feel as though he was this uncanny knack of understanding how people operate to get themselves through the day.  Like Bruce McCullough, if you know him.  He is also insanely good with words, and his comedy is this bizzarre blend of philosophy and surreal mental images (a sinister looking piece of cauliflower playing blackjack in a casino).  Anyways, it always gives you hope when you feel your thoughts are shared by someone out in the world.  Anyway:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aunrJ5CXVMw

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