Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | September 12, 2009


Dragon Gets ByIn the book my second grade class just read, the clumsy and dim-witted Dragon tries to eat a “balanced” diet by buying cheese curls from the dairy group, pork rinds from the meat/protein group, and other junk foods representative of a “balanced diet.”  The kids love the story, and for good reason.  That Dragon’s a crack-up.

Not surprisingly, the lessons from that story are just as applicable to our life today as they are to the kids in my class.  We all just need a little balance.

This week, Rachael and I have been working with some big ideas, all of which require balancing some very contradictory thoughts and emotions.  One of these revolves around our upcoming Christmas break.  It may seem distant now, but we have to have it planned in the next few weeks because of airfare, family plans, etc.

On one hand, we want to see our families.  It’s tough being so far away and not having moms, dads and siblings around for a chat about the good and the bad of each others’ days.  On the other hand, we now have a great opportunity to suck it up, stay in Japan for the holiday, and save a few thousand bucks to pay off student loan debt or put into our future home.  We penny pinch everyday on what I have for lunch to save $10-$20 a week, but for some reason, it seems worth it to annually use a chunk of our savings to see those who matter most to us.  On the third hand (yes, in Japan we have three hands), we are young, living abroad, and should use this time to travel and do all those things that our older friends tell us they “wish they had done when they had the chance.”  We both share the romantic dream of a Christmas in Prague or Madrid.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?


Balancing these valid but competing goals is a constant struggle.  It is intensified even more by the people around us.  For teachers committed to international teaching as a lifestyle, travel abroad is a frequent fact of life.  For many in our families, however, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

In the end, we’ll decide what we think is best, but needless to say, there are some complicated decisions to be made in the next few years living here in Tokyo!


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