Live, Retire, Invest Overseas? What’s The Point?
What is it I think I’m doing…the CNN reporter wondered of me on Friday?
This business…this life…what is the point, he wanted to know?
I tried not to sound defensive as I offered the simplest response my brain could muster in an instant.
What’s the real answer to that question? I was distracted all weekend trying to figure that out.
In January 1985 I took a job with a little publishing company in Baltimore, Maryland, where I’d grown up and gone to school and had no plan, at the time, ever to leave. I was an English-lit major who wanted to write. The publishing industry in Baltimore was small, and if I didn’t find a place for myself in it soon enough my father intended to find me a job in the computer industry instead. That seemed a more sensible path to him. Surely I couldn’t count on making a living as a writer.
So when the little operation with its base on East Baltimore Street offered me a position as copy editor, I asked no questions and jumped at the chance. I didn’t understand, I understand now, what kind of publishing this company was into and gave almost no thought to where the job might lead. I was thrilled simply to have found gainful employment that’d have me working with words every day.
I was with that company, as employee and eventually partner, for 23 years.
In that time, I learned a lot about writing and publishing. That accidental posting, though, put me not only in the company of writers; it put me in the company of people who saw the world the way I did.
I didn’t realize it at first. At the time, I didn’t even know I had a world view, at least not one I could have articulated. I didn’t know my mind so it was hard for me to notice that I was suddenly among like-minded company, but the people I fell in with way back then shared an openness and a broad-mindedness that I embraced instinctively.
This weekend’s news was all about the referendum in Crimea and the still-missing Malaysian airliner. The situation in Crimea is shaping up to be an historic game-changer, remaking the world map, maybe dramatically, maybe violently. We here at Live and Invest Overseas realize that reality, but I learned long ago, from those folks who took me in when I was a pony-tailed English-lit grad, that that is but one face of the world. You don’t need us to tell you about it. Others are covering that beat.
Somewhere in the world, always, people are fighting, causing trouble, and generally getting up to no good. People do stupid, hurtful things to each other, in little and big ways, all over, all the time.
At the same time, though, somewhere in the world, always, people are building, creating, enjoying…embracing opportunity, realizing potential.
Those open-minded folks in East Baltimore gave me a world view and, at the same time, supported my discovery of the world. They sent me off to scout and report and then, later, to settle in and establish bases in parts of the world where they wanted to be more connected. If not for them, I wouldn’t have moved to Ireland…wouldn’t have moved later to Paris…
And if not for Ireland and Paris, I wouldn’t have been in a position, when I eventually went off on my own, to start anew here in Panama.
If not for them, I wouldn’t have learned to be a writer as I have. And if not for them I wouldn’t have found my way to you, dear reader. My father was right in a way; it’s thanks to the computer industry that I have been able to make a living doing what I’ve always wanted to do. For, thanks to computer technology, I can write to you in real time.
I get up every morning and immediately begin wondering what I could tell you about the world…what story I could share…what opportunity I could highlight…that might remind you that, while, yes, CNN and BBC have one view of things worth knowing…it’s just one.
We at Live and Invest Overseas have another. So, every day, I drive across town, through Panama City traffic, to arrive at our little office in El Cangrejo, where I sit down at my laptop and type out 1,000 words or so that I hope give you a glimpse of that other world…that other perspective.
Is that a productive use of time? Again, I sure hope you think so. For, at this point, what in the world else would I do with myself every day?
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