Having moved into a whole new lifestyle and set of experiences in Asia has me thinking about how much has really changed since I left the states. In conversation with a friend we were discussing how living abroad has shifted both our relationships and priorities. In our minds, we were both starting over: living in a new place, holding new jobs, etc., yet our conversation raised the question: is it really possible to start over?

We often use the terminology to close chapters in our lives and open new ones. Our lives however, much unlike the static nature of the text in a book, is often much less clear and well defined as to be laid out in chapters. I believe that the things that who we meet, what we experience, think, and feel, carry with us and bleed into other aspects of our lives whether or not we want them to. Think about if you have ever had a bad break up, or quit a job that you just couldn’t wait to get away from; we think that we are moving on, we push to forget it and start over—or at least that’s what we think we are doing. Is our “closing of a door” more of a hopeful act of symbolism than a truly mental capability that we have to leave the past in the past and not let it affect the present? Sure over time things affect us less; we change our circumstances, how we act, even sometimes what we look like, in the attempts of making these transitions easier. However, is it possible that accepting that this infinite distance from what pains us is impossible to achieve, might therefore spare us the expense of copious wasted energy and emotion? And in turn, might this realization allow us to see things from a different perspective and search for the lessons from the past that come from the difficulties we encounter?

I’ve been trying out seeing these big changes as transitions instead of something that is cut and dry. Accepting that some take longer than others has been the hardest part. I think the biggest difference has been looking for the good in even bad experiences and taking that forward with me instead of trying to begin an entirely clean slate. Humans are messy, confusing, and complicated entities, and therefore changing and “fixing” things in our lives is just as messy of a process. Originally in leaving Delaware and my life the past two years I saw this experience as a clean break. A way to restart, reestablish priorities, refresh my drained identity; however, the further I get in both time and space (literally thousands of miles) the less this closing of a chapter seems necessary and the more I realize that both the good and bad has had a wonderful and profound impact on what I am doing and who I am. In addition, the people I have met that remain a part of my present are shining examples of why my past matters in my present and future. It is because of these reflections that I am glad that we cannot fully close chapters; we are just constantly in transition.