Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Brave, The Proud, The Few

I ran into an old school friend the other day, who upon hearing that I had moved back to Jamaica basically asked me "Why would anyone do that?"

His question was honest, and is one that I am frequently asked.

Sometimes when I hear the question, I wonder if they are not asking themselves that same question as it applies to themselves: "Why am I staying here?" I think they are not giving themselves credit.

Of course, there are many countries that one could leave Jamaica to visit and stay without a visa (Haiti is quite close, for example.) The point here is not that the person wants to leave Jamaica per se, but that they want to live the lifestyle they have in Jamaica with more money and less crime. Call it Every Jamaican's Fantasy Island.

Given that most Jamaicans could leave to live someplace else if they absolutely had to, I conclude that most of us are here because they choose to (even though the polls indicate an overwhelming desire to migrate to North America.)

This does not make us crazy. Instead, it disconnects us from a very North American notion that one's purpose in life is to live as easily as possible.

Given that life in Jamaica is much harder than life in the USA, for example, then one would indeed be crazy to even think of moving back to Jamaica.

But that is just no way to live. It might be a way to survive, but it is no way to live a full life.

Taking on big challenges, rather than always looking for the easy way out seems to be the hallmark of the most admirable people that have existed on the planet, perhaps because it takes such courage.

Whenever I have done things that were challenging and did not involve taking the easy path, I have felt the most empowered and satisfied once the dust had settled down.

Agreeing to be School Captain at St. Andrew Prep was not the easy path. More recently, writing this blog filled with controversial content is also not easy.

Difficult paths that others have taken are also inspiring.

Anyone who joins the marines does so willingly, knowing that they are joining the toughest branch of the US Armed Forces. Anyone who goes to a tough college, or decides to do a marathon, or raise a child or run for office are obviously not doing what they are doing because they are pursuing the easiest option available to them.

In like manner, someone who chooses to move back to Jamaica, is making a conscious choice to pursue an option that is risky, and is not the easiest one to pursue.

And that is inspiring.

As Robert Frost wrote:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I --
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


At 5/11/2006 9:00 PM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

Hello, first time visitor. I largely agree with you. I'm 23, in grad. school, and in the position to now make a decision as to what I'm going to be doing with myself for the immediate future. The biggest question I (and friends of mine who are similarly situated) face is whether or not to go home or not?

I'm sure you faced this exact dilemna at some point, and understand we're I'm coming from.

Where I would chose to disagree with you though is in this;

"Taking on big challenges, rather than always looking for the easy way out seems to be the hallmark of the most admirable people that have existed on the planet, perhaps because it takes such courage."

This could easily just be an age thing, or better yet, an indication of where each of us is in life, but I know for me and my friends around here, it would be easier to go home. We're comfortable there. Family is there. Home is (not paradoxically) home.

It takes more (and I hesitate to call it...) courage (for us) to stay in the US and ply our own trade away from families (as most of us in Minnesota are), and the comforts of home.

But as I said, maybe the above is simply a reflection on where each of us is in life at the moment. Give me another decade or two here, a family, a house, and steady, fulfilling work, and Jamaica could easily become the risky option that my parents never cease to tell me that it is.

Keep up the good work. Now that I've found this, I'll be back. Thanks for letting some of us know that the dream is possible.

At 7/06/2006 7:56 AM, Blogger fwade said...


Great perspective!

I believe that some of what yo uare saying resonates with me, and was true for me in my younger years.

There is something quite courageous in trying to "make your own way" in a strange place!

Thanks for this.


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