There are few things in this world as pleasurable as our softener-scented comforter on a Thursday night. And there’s the comfort of the surefire Sunday program options, the list of brands of laundry detergent, and living a few blocks away from the best ice cream around, from family, from the ENT doctor you know.
It was a southern Brazil autumn afternoon when, in the midst of this delicious feeling and with the fireplace lit, I decided to rent an apartment located twelve suitcases and ten credit card installments away from my favorite bakery. I was deceived by saying that the name of this movement was immigration. In fact, I was born again.
Even though you probably won’t need a diaper or a pacifier, you will be as lost as a newborn baby. Doctors will ask you questions that you would need your mother to answer, spices will cause reflux, and through these uncharted waters, the comforter will smell like Ikea. You will communicate by stuttering, you will need to relearn how to make friends, and you will have questions about what is the acceptable social behavior for people who strangely don’t say “hello” with a kiss.
It is not mandatory, of course. If you have always dreamed of breaking new ground, you can continue without taking your dreams off the drawing board. You can take the same route, every day, at the same time. You can turn on your favorite radio station and listen to the same news. You can open the window that always has the same view and leave all your ideals to “maybe one day”.
Only those who have the courage to stop giving lame excuses for settling for less can be born again in the middle of life – whether it’s moving to another country, giving up on a relationship, starting a new profession, a master’s degree, a book, a project, a dream. It is scary (it’s very scary), but those who don’t count to three, hold their breath, and take a step forward, will stay up there forever, with wobbly legs, fantasizing about the feeling of jumping. Of course there are the no’s, the risks, the avalanche of humility, the temptation to give up at every “it doesn’t matter if in your country you get a pap smear every year, it doesn’t work like that here”. Life outside the comfort zone is like bare feet on a cold day.
It sends a shiver down your spine.
But understanding that our windows may have other views makes us wonder why we were never told that there was so much life beyond the bread at the corner bakery. The truth is that we do miss everything we left behind, but at the end of the day, we manage. We learn to walk, to talk, to digest cumin, to warm our feet, and to explore the world. And even though we may not learn how to eliminate Ikea smell, we clear the stage. We go straight to the one in which we understand that we can. And as many times as we want.