Decisions, decisions, decisions…
Once you decide to pull up your roots and remove yourself from all the things that are known to you, the options and choices are suddenly numerous. When you are no longer tethered to the obligations and joys of history and community, the choices are wide open.
And so, as we begin to pack up our long-term life in Australia and plan for a year overseas, we are faced with a dizzying array of choices and decisions to be made – all of them good I might add.
- Where will we live?
- Which places will we travel to?
- Which family and friends will we visit and for how long?
- By what mode of transport and what order will we do it all in?
Occasionally I suffer a paralysis of choice, losing myself in a myriad of Google maps, information and other people’s stories.
Currently at home in my daily life, I bumble along because so many decisions that influence today, were made years ago – like where we live, who our friends are, where we work. Other than daily functioning, there aren’t that many new decisions to be made each day.
We obediently follow the rhythm of work, invitations to family gatherings, friends’ birthday parties, weddings, funerals, anniversaries etc… We love this life and the sense of belonging, however in many ways, we have also become servants to it.
By packing up and doing something different, we have become more alert and are proactively engaged in choosing how we will spend our time and resources during our year away. Where we tend to become stuck is in narrowing down the choices of places we want to visit as there are just so many.
As Australians who live far from the rest of the world, once we arrive in Europe, determining which places to visit is a challenge. Ultimately we have decided to prioritise family and friends over specific interests in places for their art, history, architecture or food. This has been a difficult choice as I have dreamed of visiting cities like Copenhagen, Berlin and Prague. The greater pull, however, is towards reconnecting with family and friends in Finland, France, Hungary and Switzerland.
We acknowledge that a large part of this trip is about reconnection to our European heritage, for our children and us. And if there is spare time and resources during our year, our other interests will hopefully be explored.
The only city we have committed to visit as “tourists” is Paris as our son has made a very persuasive argument for his “need” to visit this city. He has been learning French since pre-school and has developed a keen interest in all things French.
Here is our wish-list of places to visit that extend beyond reconnecting with family and friends:
1) My Francophile husband and son are keen to spend time in the South of France to fulfil a long-held fantasy
2) I have always admired and wanted to visit Denmark for its progressive social and environmental policies as well as its cutting edge design. Some things I admire about Denmark are: its commitment to renewable energy, the high rate of urban communal housing, Danes are apparently the happiest people in the Western world, the recent introduction of a “fat tax” on food containing high fat, their beautiful design aesthetic and the list goes on… not to mention visiting the home of LEGO for the kids.
3) My eight year old ‘car loving’ son, has discovered that there is a Ferrari museum in Italy and is determined to go there.
4) And the art…El Prado Museum in Madrid, the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the Uffizzi in Florence, Le Louvre in Paris…. oh, but to dream!
Finally, as Sarah Wilson says: “There is never a perfect decision. The best option transpires only because a decision of some sort was made that served as a stable base from which to build and create an end result.”