It is past midnight server time, and there are thirty minutes to go local time, and I thought the best use of my time would be to talk about what I did in 2017, and what I didn't do in 2017. And inversely, what I want to do in 2018 and what I don't want to have done in 2018. The other day, I was explaining the future perfect tense to a student. When we use the future perfect, we in effect put ourselves in the viewpoint of our future self, looking backwards. And when we do that in the negative, we are almost comparing a negative course of action with our current self. We talked about the New Year, talking about 2018 as if it was a race between the selves we wanted and our negative wishes: when we reached the end of 2018, which would win? Advanced grammar can't be taught without some philosophy and soul searching.
Living in Chile, there are certain things you are told you "have to do". See Torre del Paine. See San Pedro de Atacama. Maybe go to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Or go further afield, and visit Maccu Picchu, or Iguazu Falls. There is a lot to see in South America. It is, in many people's thoughts, a romantic continent. There is a lot of FOMO to be here and to not get to see the great, life changing spiritual adventures that people talk about. I did see a lot of new places in 2017, mostly in my own way (I walked across Santiago in both directions, through some of the less scenic and tourist-friendly neighborhoods). I am still waiting for the spark of romance to take ahold.
But for me, mostly what I did this year was work. I worked pretty much any shift offered to me, day or evening. The way my job works, hours can sometimes be inconvenient. If I wake up at 7 AM for a 90 minute class, at 8 AM, I get paid for 90 minutes of work, but it means I go to bed early the night before, and have taken that day off my schedule for other things. There were weeks I worked 12 hours, and by Friday, I was exhausted. But I still worked. I took anything offered to me, and was a bean counter for hours and for money. I worried about wearing button-up shirts and having a neat haircut for my more corporate clients. I made lesson plans around the curriculum and did all my paperwork on time, even when I was tired. I managed to move into a new apartment in a foreign city and live alone, the logistics of which were daunting and expensive. I got up one morning at 5 AM so I could stand in line for four hours at Immigration. I paid my bills on time. I lived independently, at least in that I looked at my responsibilities and never said "I will wait for someone else to do this". I knew that these were things I had to do.
For some people, this might not seem laudable. A year of conformity and trying my hardest to adopt to corporate culture? While in a foreign country? Shouldn't I be listening to folk singers in wine shops and learning how the oommon people live? Getting in touch with the spirit of adventure? My answer to that is twofold: first, for any traveler, the first pull might be to learn how differently people live around the world. The second revelation is how much people have in common around the world. The adventurous life here is what tourists see. The daily grind: riding the subway, going to meeting, standing in lines for the supermarket, is more true than the romantic image that tourists crave. And for me personally, I had lived my 20s and 30s always having a dodge. I spent several years in Montana with almost no responsibilities, waiting for the world to hand me a perfect opportunity, thinking of reasons why I couldn't work. So I decided to change that, to just take responsibilities and see what happened. And it worked well. In other words, I would qualify 2017 as the year of my Reverse Midlife Crisis. Tired of being too cool for normal activities and looking for the next whimsical escapade, I lived a life of worry and accounting. My time here in 2016, the first eight months, were the typical tourist mindset, the normal "one and done" of an American looking to have a foreign adventure. When I decided to really accept that I was living here, then things were different.
That being said, and knowing that was important for me, I do not think I want to do the same thing for another year. I like teaching, but the schedule is too unpredictable. I can go through the motions, but I feel that if I keep on the same course, neither I nor my students will benefit. I honestly have no idea right now whether I will stay in Chile, stay teaching, get a different type of job teaching, or whether some entirely new opportunity will occur to me. I know that I am proud of the last year, but I know it won't be fulfilling to do the same thing again. But I have been so tired out by the past year, so used to only thinking in terms of getting through the week, that I don't know exactly what I want to do. Perhaps during summer vacation, that romance that people have talked about will reenter my life, and my course ahead will be more clear.
Two minutes until midnight, local time. There is still time to wonder, and to realize I don't have to rush.