There’s no greater feeling in life than the reward of a risk taken and well achieved.
Travelers are by nature, life’s greatest gamblers. We are always searching for the next challenge, feeding off the electric pulse of constant uncertainty. Scaling mountains, trekking to the planets extremities, and leaping off just about anything they’ll let us.
With every risk rewarded, the addiction digs its talons deeper into my gut. As Truman Capote writes, you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get.
A way of life
But what kind of risk are you running when instead of leaping off the cliff, you build a house at the edge of it and pull out a pair of binoculars?
Vacationing is one thing, while expatriotism is quite another. For many of us, the kinetic inconsistency of travel becomes a way of life. Once caught in the matrix of periphery encounters, poetic solitude, and adrenalin-pumping exploits, you’re lost forever in an ocean of uncharted potential.
The way you see the world shifts entirely and the tapestry of meaning formed from a new sense of experiential awareness polarizes your sense personal identity.
Suddenly, home is not just the place you live. Home is the piece of your soul that finds its counterpoint in the intoxication of cultural reciprocity.
The risk of cultural investment
According to DW Dilauro’s article Using Neuroscience to Understand Risk, culture is defined as “a lens through which risks are interpreted”.
This is the idea that risk perceptions are a social construct designed to reinforce the institutional framework within a given community. The idea of acceptable behavior changes in every culture, based on how that society measures risk.
So what happens when you drop a risk-loving expat into a web of entirely new sociodemographic characteristics?
A whole lot of adventure. Without even realizing it, expats are taking risks and defying normality at every turn. Most of us don’t fit in. Many of us struggle to find a job. A few of us offend everyone we meet before even drawing a breath. These is are typical trepidations of an expatriot life.
The challenge of adapting to foreign customs and standards is personal growth at its best. The cycle continues as the more we invest and facilitate cultural exchange, the greater the risk – and the greater the reward.
If every expat in every nation around the world got together to form a new country, it would be the 5th most populous nation in the world.
As such a formidable group, we have a responsibility to establish standards of reciprocity for future, more mobile generations and inspire a climate of cultural awareness, tolerance, and global understanding.
The inspiration that comes from investing in a foreign culture fills gaps in your soul that you never knew existed.
Remember that while reason is often at odds with reflexive behavior, curiosity is the spark to the flame of erudition.