Back to the Real World

Whatever that is.

During a Skype conversation the other morning, I mentioned that–usually– I’m supposed to be at school by 10, which sometimes (often?) means I get there by 11 or so.  Mongolian time, of course.  I’m integrated.   But the response was a laughing, ‘You’ll have a hard time when you get back to the real world.’  Ha, ha.  Funny, funny.  But then I thought about it:

The real world?  What is that?

I’ve been of the opinion for some time that we as humans have an amazing capacity to adjust.  We adjust to the strangest or most uncomfortable circumstances because we have to– that’s just what we do.   When my sister and I traveled around Ireland, we got used to the transitory nature of living.  When I was in grad school, I got used to staying up late reading and writing papers and waking up early to make it to work before I had to be in class before I had to volunteer before I had to stay up late reading and writing papers.  When I moved to Mongolia, I got used to waking up early to make a fire to stay warm, to wearing ten layers of clothing to bed and to school and to the outhouse, to not having work to do after work (and sometimes during).  Things become normalized where before they were ridiculous, strenuous, unharmonious to our previous lives.  Where we are at the moment is the realest of real to us.  It is our world because– aside from our memories from the past and our visions of the future– it’s all we have.

So, would that not make it the real world?

My question stems from this: when I get back to what the questioner considers the Real World, I agree that I will have to make some adjustments.  For example, making it to work on time and (lamentably) earlier than I’m used to going now; staying at work later than I do now (even after dark!); being held accountable for work I do in a way I’m not here (am I, here?).

And yet.

I will also (probably) not have to leave my place of residence with enough time to walk through sand and glass and open construction sites to make it to my work; I will not have to make it home from work in time to make a fire to thaw the water that may have frozen while I was gone; I will not have to sleep in long underwear with a fleece jacket under 2 fleece blankets inside a sleeping bag zipped over my head underneath a camel hair blanket under another fleece blanket under a normal comforter just to stay warm through the night; I will not have to ask others constantly to buy my water so I can wash my hands and clothes and dishes, or my wood and coal so I can make those fires; I will not have to translate everything I hear in my head nor translate everything in my head that I want to be heard.  And work!  Having work that I feel competent doing, that I feel understood doing, that I feel is needed and called for and supported by someone… yes, I will welcome that.  I will wake up early.  I will speak in my native tongue.  And I will do something.  There will be challenges in that there Real World.  But, boy howdy, I’d be darned if they are any more challenging than what feels so real to me in this here world I’m living in.

So maybe life is just transitioning from one world to another, but I don’t think that makes any of them less real.  Each has its struggles, but, so far, I’ve found ways to deal with them, if not to overcome them, with every new turn and with every unexpected shift.

I guess all I’m saying is that, well, I’m here, so let me be here.  When I get there, I’ll do my best to be there.  But there’s no point in rushing, and there’s not much more point to comparing.

The real worlds.

That feels better.


4 thoughts on “Back to the Real World

  1. Yep. And well said (well… written) too. At least so I say from my a few more worlds (but I never had to zip a sleeping bag over my head!) and counting perspective.

  2. “real” perspective! From one who has recently shifted from one real world to another…you will be fine,it just takes time.

  3. I’m sure your questioner has a boatload of respect for you and how you adjust and adapt to wherever you are. The questioner made the mistake of using the words “real world” when referring to the more common, typical, expected daily routine. And each of those words should probably be in quotation marks.. Ha ha. You state it perfectly, that what is “real” is where/when we are. The present. And I’m POSITIVE your questioner recognizes the hardships of your present world FAR OUTWEIGH the small luxury of a flexible workday. We are very proud of you!

  4. As am I. And you’ve got it exactly right. What we (in the US) think of as the “real world” is so unreal to so much of the world. So many in the US have so little clue as to what life is like for most of the people in the world. One of the important things about your experience, over the long run, is you awareness of all of this. L’Chiam Alyse!

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