Welcome to Kuala Lumpur
The trek here was long. Like really long. So, so long.
I worked a full week and started out my trek with a 1-hour flight to Minneapolis. Quick layover, then a 12-hour flight to Tokyo. Wanted to say hi to my friend while there, but with the short layover and immigration, it didn't happen.
On the plane, I was flooded by memories of past trips that I've taken. One in particular that I took to New Orleans with a few friends for my friend Suma's milestone birthday.
We walked the streets of the city near Magazine Street, far from the beaten path of Bourbon Street, in all imaginable ways. It was a residential neighborhood filled with endless small shops and quaint restaurants nestled between. And it felt right.
It was the right place. It was my place.
It was filled with my people. The ease that's embodied when you find yourself somewhere you belong oils your joints and softens your step. It pulls your shoulders back, opens your heart and expands the breadth of your chest. It's a long drink of water that's chilled to the perfect degree. Soul quenching.
Suma and Geoffrey were with me — intrepid explorers, but without the dreaded FOMO (Fear of Misssing Out) that so many experience. I'm unsure why I don't fear missing out. If I could venture a guess, it would be that I decided long ago—at least it feels like it was long ago—that I am grateful for my life and all the experiences it brings. Further, that those experiences are the ones that I need to be having. The ones I'm supposed to be having. It's the learning that I need at the time. The lesson that I need to learn at the time. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn.
When I finally arrived on Sunday morning, I was beat. I had a nice Malaysian seatmate who gave me a lot of advice (mostly warnings) about where to (not) go, how to carry myself and my bag, and about the Malaysia culture generally.
I was greeted at KLIA arrivals by two members of the Remote Year staff. Apparently, I was the first to arrive. Others straggled in and I met some really great people straight off.
While we waited, I set up my secondary phone with local SIM card and looked over the information packet that discussed the particulars of our living arrangements.
We went out on a short adventure for street food and to locate an ATM for spending money. The Malaysian currency is called a Ringgit. Currently there are about 4 Ringgits to 1 US Dollar.
A quick dip in the pool followed by a quicker nap and I was ready for some food and a long drink. Pulling myself out of bed was difficult, but I used a bit of advice that I received from my dear friend Melinda.
Melinda spent a large part of her career in international business. When she wasn't off traveling to the far stretches of the earth, she was endlessly hopping on conference calls at all times of the day and night.
Her advice in a nutshell, "be here now."
Sleep when everyone else sleeps. Be sure to hydrate and adjust your watch straight away when your plane lands.
This advice gave me the permission that I needed to stop playing that game of location limbo. The game where you might say it's this time here now, breakfast for example, so in the other place, it's this other time and normally I'd be getting ready for bed or going for lunch, etc. It's not helpful. It might be fun a few times, but it keeps me from being here now.
This is the same mechanism that FOMO uses to keep us wanting what we don't have.
It's stoicism I suppose, but it's also about acceptance and changing the things you can, while simultaneously giving yourself time to be okay with being unable to change the things you can't.