You’re Younger Than You’ll Ever Be…So Get Busy Living Your Dream Life
The Czech letter Ř.
Honestly, I don’t think it should exist. But I concede a certain bias here.
See, I’m American, born and raised. Never had to trill an R and mash it together unnaturally with a J sound. Or scrunch it into a string of consonants, sans vowels, not meant to be married.
Now, however, I must—because I live in Prague as an expat, writing from the comfort of local pubs and coffee shops and riverside parks or my apartment overlooking a serene courtyard. And everywhere I venture, this scoundrel Ř mocks me on signs I struggle to pronounce. Czechs I know smile at my disdain and tell me their kids hate this letter, too. Czech parents regularly send offspring to tutors to learn proper pronunciation of this orthographic abomination.
But to my point: I’m exceedingly happy to battle this demon letter. For it means I’m living my dream.
In college, I thought I wanted to be a photojournalist traveling the world for a magazine such as National Geographic, documenting life and culture worlds removed from my South Louisiana roots. Instead, I accidently became a writer after a trip to El Salvador in 1986 to photograph earthquake damage and search-and-rescue operations. A journalism professor (who covered Reagan’s White House) saw my photos and a small story I wrote in the student newspaper and told me “your photos are just OK, but your writing is good. Drop photography and take my investigative reporting class.” I did.
And here I am—some 30 years later—in Prague…
It’s the culmination of a path that ultimately led to my dream of living and writing overseas.
And I tell you this because I know my dream mimics a dream many people harbor: To spend time abroad—maybe even full-time—and enjoy life in a new way.
One of my very dear friends here in Prague is a Harvard psychologist who splits her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a lovely apartment overlooking a beautiful park and vineyards in Prague. She doesn’t spend nearly as much time here as she wants because she can’t quite find a way to pull herself completely free of her American life just yet.
Another couple I know wants to chuck it all and head to South America, but they struggle emotionally with how to make enough money to live. Totally understand that—though the good news is that there are solutions. And I understand why my Harvard friend remains bi-continental. But every time she asks me, “How did you cut the cord?” I have the same reply: You just do it.
You make the decision that life is too short to have regrets when you’re 90. You don’t get a mulligan and you can’t go back and undo what’s done. So you have to decide if living overseas is really the life for you. And if it truly is your dream, then you start right now putting in place the steps necessary to reach that goal.
I can’t tell you what those steps are; they’re different for everyone. For me, the offer to write from Europe arose in the summer of 2018 and I leapt at the opportunity without a moment’s consideration. This was a dream more than 30 years in the making, and there was no way I was going to let it pass.
For someone else, the path will be much different.
But there is a path, that’s what counts.
If earning a living abroad is the issue, I and my colleagues at The Savvy Retiree and International Living constantly write about ways you can do it from the obvious (writer/photographer/English teacher) to the less-apparent (consultant/entrepreneur/computer coder).
If you’re curious whether life overseas is really for you, then consider a housesitting gig for several weeks. My colleagues write about that regularly, as well. It will give you a real-world taste of daily life somewhere you think you might enjoy living, and you’ll quickly figure out if life in a foreign land meets (or exceeds) your dreams.
Whatever is holding you back, push it aside. Grab the opportunities while you can. As a post from a friend in my Instagram feed reminded me on New Year’s Day: “You’re not as old as you’re going to be, and you’re younger than you’ll ever be.” Might as well do something that makes you happy for the rest of your life while there’s still a rest of your life to be happy with… Ř be damned.
Written by Jeff D. Opdyke