A Final Closing Thought
There are few things in life as certain as birth, life and death. Of these we accept that the most important of the trio is Life. Compared to the average I have been massively blessed. I have already experienced and completed one segment of such a life, this being a 25 year career in HM Forces. During this period I frequently took risks, and in many cases these risks could have brought things to a very dramatic and untimely conclusion. But I was lucky enough to finish this segment of my life largely in one piece and within 20% of full working order…
The next segment of my life started in 1996 with a foreseeable end date of March 2011. So far I have been in full time employment throughout. As I reflect on the previous 9 ½ years a few events tend to stick out as crossroads at which I took life forming decisions. One such crossroads I actually negotiated before I left the forces. That decision eventually took me to Thailand. I had never intended to go, it was a spur of the moment decision, but having come down on that side of the fence, I went, and resultant from that choice, I now find that the entirety of the current segment of my life has been irrevocably influenced by it.
Initially I settled in the North of England, and for the first 3 years I was happy enough with this choice, but I had radically underestimated the power of market forces. These forces eventually saw me moving back to London where I have now lived for some 6 & ½ years. Throughout the entire period I have returned to South East Asia (SEA) as frequently as 4 and on occasion as many as 5 times annually.
I have recently passed yet another crossroads, which now sees me winding up my life here in UK with a view to leaving for good.
So what might cause a male White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) to want to leave home and settle in a far off land as an ethnic minority?
One major driver has been the current leaning towards political correctness. I was all in favour of an integrated and politically diverse multi-cultural Britain, but things have now gone too far. Another driver has been the general decline in self-respect which society seems to exhibit.
In my mind there is a clear link between failing levels of self-respect and the increased prevalence of obesity. A fact recently acknowledged by the Big Business comunitity here in UK… The Unions declared in response that this sort of attitude is not legal, hows that for PC? What is obesity, if not a marker of low levels of self-respect?
As a young cock-sure hot blooded 20 something I can recall a woman accusing me of ‘Loving Myself’, at the time my considered reply was:- “Of course I do, if I didn’t how might I ask anybody else to?” Surely I can not be unique, I do not consider myself to be vain, but the last thing I do before I venture out, whether it is en route to work, or a social occasion, either way, the last thing I do is to look into a mirror… If I’m not happy with what I see, and the faults are within my control, I correct the problem before continuing with my planned excursion.
Obesity doesn’t happen overnight, and correcting the problem is never a quick fix. In my experience it is far easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Therefore I regularly monitor my weight and know that my Body Mass Index (BMI) at 23.7, is well within the band described as normal. Somewhat distressingly I note that my weight may fluctuate by as much as 5 Pounds from day to day but as a weekly average I am happy that my BMI is ‘Normal’. It was not always so. There was a time when I was significantly overweight; my BMI went as high as 27.3. On the subject of weight loss, I’ve heard many differing views, some sing the praises of Atkins while others decry it, I guess it all boils down to what the individual is comfortable with… High protein, low carbohydrate worked for me a while, for some it would be hell on earth. I chose to not only lose weight but to change my whole lifestyle as well, this even included a change of home. For me, whatever people do is justified, if it gets them to where they want to be, and that’s not a bad maxim to apply to other areas of life either.
To return to the WASP about to fly from the nest:-
I have for a long time had aspirations of retirement to SEA, but that will not happen for some 6 years. In the meanwhile I could have continued with my life such as it was, financially I was happy, even though I was spending a significant proportion of my disposable income on forays to SEA… But the reality within that existence was that ‘socially’ I had separated from my WASP roots to such an extent, that with few if any exceptions, I had no synergy with anybody I knew outside of my working environment.
It has been said that you can not always improve your situation, but you can always change it! I know within bounds, where I want to be, I even know the timescales within which it is going to happen.. There are still a few crossroads I have yet to negotiate however;
Could I tolerate the status quo for a further 6 years? Did spending nearly half your disposable income on travelling make any sense? Would I ever get used to long haul flights?
Roughly a year ago, I was approached by an American company with a view to employment in the Middle East. I attended an interview but the offer of employment didn’t at that time materialize. After a gap of some seven or more months I was called to another interview which was this time followed up with an offer of full time employment in UAE.
The terms and conditions of the new job are attractive I’ll admit, tax free salary et al… Sunny weather 365 days a year has its merits likewise, but the single point that swung the contest, winning hands down over money and weather was the proximity to SEA. Dependent on routing, the flight time can be as short as 6 hours. I would have taken the post for the same T’s & C’s as my present post. Likewise, had the post been in a near Arctic country, I still would have taken it… Cutting my normal SEA bound flight time by a full 7 hours was what won the day…
Things will be different for sure. I am under no illusions on that score. I could not hope to have such a good set of working colleagues as I currently have for example. I know that working in the Middle East will challenge me from a professional perspective as well. But I can adapt to anything, I’ve done it before and no doubt I will do it again in the future.
I like your thoughts on self-respect.