“Where is the Grass Greener?” or “Time Capsule”

GyeongJu Countryside; Decemeber 2013

There seems to be a part of the brain that is dedicated solely to the nagging thought that there is something, somewhere, happening that we are missing out on.  Usually this something is happening with people we like and would like to be with.  It’s that part of the brain that prevents us from ‘living in the moment’, that creates better moments everywhere else but the place we currently are.  Depending on a dozen different factors this may or may not be true.

Some would say that the ‘grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ and that is certainly true when you spend all of your time looking over the fence.  I grew up worrying about this, worrying that something was happening and I wasn’t a part of it.  Worrying that my friends were all hanging out and I wasn’t invited.  It’s a silly worry and a true one since if I were to think rationally about it I would have realized that there were times when I was involved with my group of friends but others were not.  This is a natural course of relationships and life.  We can’t be everywhere all the time.

Of course today that experience is much more different than it was for me growing up in the 90’s.  Today we have Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and numerous other social networking sites that people mindlessly and constantly update.  These updates serve two purposes: The first is, look at all the cool things I’m doing and look at all the cool things you’re not doing with me.  This may or may not be intentional to the user but the impact on the viewer can be: the people I know are way cooler and do way cooler things than I do.  “The grass is always greener.”

When I was in High School, during the summer between my junior and senior years I spent a month sea kayaking in Alaska on Prince William Sound.  This was the first of a lifetime of similar wilderness adventures I have undertaken and continue to pursue.  When I returned home after this trip it took me almost two weeks before I saw any of my closest friends.  It wasn’t until Matt called me to see if I wanted to hang out that I actually returned home, not just to the physical place I called home but the social and relationship circles that I called home.  I don’t remember what we did, it probably wasn’t anything really special, but it was that single most important moment of the summer.

Matt asked me why I hadn’t called sooner, since he was pretty sure that I was supposed to have been home a little while ago and I told him that I had been worried that while I was gone things had changed so much that I no longer fit in.  Matt simply said, ‘That will never happen, you can always call.’ With those words he wiped away all the thoughts I had been having that something better had been happening here, at home, while I was off paddling a kayak with whales in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in the world.  And thirteen years later Matt stood with me as one of my Best Men at my wedding.

Now here I am, living in Korea, and I find myself trapped in what feels like a time capsule.  We moved into a previously lived in and designed apartment.  We have a pretty structured routine.  We go to work all week and find something to entertain us on the weekends.  We only have the clothes we could fit into two suitcases for the year.  Everything seems to be repeating itself more and more often.  I wore this shirt last week and I’m going to wear it again this week.  I have three pairs of jeans.  Limited coats.  This is only more apparent because most Koreans are so fashionable and seem to have bottomless closets. There are very few clothing stores that have clothes in my size.  I have the same conversations with friends and family all the time.  How is it? What’s your job like?  What’s Korea like?  And yet none of these things are bad.  None of this actually makes me miss being home more.

These are necessary parts to the adventure and because of what Matt said so many years ago I hardly have a thought about missing out on what is happening while I’m gone.  What I mean is that I’m not so concerned with what I could be doing that I’m not enjoying what I am doing.

But the time capsule feeling means that it’s hard to believe that other’s lives are changing, leaping, rushing forward at the same rate or even faster.  That they are becoming different in ways that I am not.  That the three months since we arrived here and have brought tremendous change to our lives could have brought more to our friends and families lives.

The second purpose of our constant obsession with social networking status updates and photo sharing is that it gives us a nugget, a tiny piece of sharing an experience, with the people we are close to.  This Blog even is an attempt to keep our friends and family current with our lives and thoughts.  I can’t get enough of the pictures my sister posts of my nephew Cooper.  I have never spent so much time in my life sharing emails and liking things on Facebook or calling friends on Facetime.  These social network outlets have been a blessing when trying to connect with new people in Korea through Meetup.com and especially with a great group of people in Gawi Bawi Go! Although social networking has the potential to help and hurt it lends itself more to the mentality of the viewer and I like to think that even long distance sharing is still intentional relationship maintenance.

I often think about how our friends in Salt Lake are going to be exactly the same as when we left.  Even though it’s been almost a year and will have been at least another before we are back.  It is unrealistic to believe that the city and the people and our friends won’t change.  I expect them to change but it is nice to think about and easier to hold on to the memories of the past and our experiences together as the everlasting reality until we return.  I am lucky to have had the experience of friendships in the past that have unrealistically stayed the same.  The closest people in my life are still the friends that I made when I was too young to know what friendship really was.  Graham and I were vicariously before we were born and have remained close for our 31 years.  Then there are my friends from high school who, like Matt, are all over the world and have had so many different experiences but never forget where our friendship started and that it will always be there.

I miss all of our relationships.  I miss all of our friends.  I miss them like I should, not lamenting their absence but admiring their everlasting presence.  I can go on for pages about the specific things that I miss and I could spend the rest of my days in Korea looking over the fence at the neighbors greener grass but I’m not sure that would help me.  I’m sure that wouldn’t allow me to grow and enjoy this adventure for what it is, an adventure worth enjoying.  We will all find ourselves looking over the fence at the greener grass, the past, the different experiences, the different people in our lives.  It’s important to keep in mind that the grass is greenest where we water it.  Where we put in the effort, the time and build genuine relationships; although our lives may never stop changing our relationships can be effectively sealed in a time capsule and kept safe until we reopen it as long as we call because we always can.

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