Neophobia: Fear of anything new, of innovation, an irrational fear of new situations, places, or things. In animal behavior, neophobia refers to the tendency of an animal to avoid or retreat from an unfamiliar object or situation. ~ MedicineNet.com ~
This week we’ve come to another crossroads. This morning I’ll go over and help Vecino Jr. do some last things around the house while Vecino is in Chitre attending to some papers to complete the sale of their vehicle. Tonight we’ll have them both for supper as we did before Vecina departed, and tomorrow Vecino and Vecino Jr. will be driven to Las Tablas to board the bus for Panama City. After attending to some orthodontic business they will board an airplane on Thursday that will take them to Norte America.
The changes that are happening on the calle are a little frightening. We would be selfish if we were to say that we don’t want the Vecino’s to leave, after all they must do what is best for their family. It got me to thinking about our decision to leave Norte America and about moving on to something new. The Vecinos are doing it in reverse; they are not moving back to the last city where they lived, but will be going to a city that is new to them. It also got me to thinking that sometimes the fear of something new is what holds us back from experiencing life to the fullest.
I posted yesterday about having gratitude for the people and things in my life. When people are thinking about change they sometimes focus on things other than themselves that they think defines who they are; their job, how much money they have and what I like to call “The Stuff”. For some, their job or having a big fancy house is what defines them; if you’re worried about losing all “The Stuff” then that can hold you back. I learned before I moved to Panama that life wasn’t about “The Stuff” but since I’ve lived here I’ve realized it even more. Don’t get me wrong, we have a pretty nice little house, a truck and some nice “Stuff”. But in Panama I look around and see vecino’s helping vecino’s and amigos helping amigos and know that this is what it used to be like in Norte America; before we got all wrapped up in “The Stuff”.
Getting over a fear of change and leaving the familiar may result in enjoyment, relief of boredom, and personal growth. It can also result in terrible homesickness and deeply missing your friends and family. The good and the bad have to be weighed against each other. One of the side effects of retiring early and moving to Panama is that we’ve been able to pursue activities that we wouldn’t have had the time to do while we were still working full-time. Who would have known that SU would have enjoyed building a garden from nothing but dirt and rocks and tending to it every day? We both spend a good part of our day reading, something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and now have time for, and something that SU has rediscovered. We’ve both been forced to do more things for ourselves and for others and we laugh that we’re becoming a Jack and Jill of All Trades. Part of the fun for us now is to try and keep our budget as low as we can for the month. We don’t deny ourselves but we find that we can get by with less and less of “The Stuff”.
Sometimes even beginning to think about a life outside the box takes on monolithic proportions. While we’ve been learning Spanish the term “poco a poco” has been repeated to us over and over. It means little by little. I don’t advocate chucking everything and moving overnight but careful thought and planning with a little research thrown in can make any dream possible, poco a poco. There have been a few people who have contacted me recently to ask about my experiences moving to Panama. For some people making such a big change from the comfort of the familiar to the unknown can nerve-racking. It can be easier to settle for something safe (like a month in Florida) or doing nothing at all because they are frightened of change. For some people Florida is certainly the place they should be, Panama is not for everyone. But, acting with daring contributes to a life with purpose; fear of something new keeps you trapped and can stop you from realizing your image of your life. Getting over the fear and the risk it brings is the first step. Having a goal, setting priorities, motivation, discipline and remembering what you want to do will get you over the finish line.