A Retiring Attitude

 |  December 25, 2009

This is a paraphrase of a line from an email I recently received from a friend who has been retired here for about 2 years, “My emails back home end up being a one-way only communication. I seldom get more than a few quick lines back.” Well, welcome to the club.

Anyone who has lived abroad, even for a short period, has lots of stories to tell. You will soon become familiar with a certain syndrome. We go home and begin to entertain our friends with pictures and anecdotes of our adventures, or we write home to describe our odysseys and something interesting happens. In the beginning our friends and family are spellbound by our stories. But soon their eyes begin to glaze over and they start getting fidgety and restless. A sensitive raconteur will know he has lost his audience when, to save the day, someone says something like, “How about those (enter name of a local sports team here)?” And with relief your listeners are happy to change the subject. I figure that we have about 15 minutes to get our stories across before the glazed eye syndrome kicks in. With emails, the threshold is reached at about the third one.

It isn’t because our friends don’t want to hear, or don’t find interesting, our photos and tales of our foreign escapades. But unless they have travelled themselves then they may not have similar experiences to help them relate. As much as we may love them, and they us, they just may not have a frame of reference to relate to what our new lives have become. Or maybe it is just because our lives, which may have at one time travelled together along the same road, are now moving in different directions.

An old high school friend, whom I reconnected with a few years ago after finding her with a Google search, was really excited that we had found each other again and sincerely wanted to keep in touch, even if it were only an email once a year on our birthdays. That worked for two years. This year she seems to have forgotten my birthday. Well, at least my kids still write, for now.

What can we do about this? One thing is to remember that they really do still care about you. So somewhere in your next email home try dropping this line, “So, how about those (enter name of a local sports team here)?”

For further information about retiring to Thailand check out my site www.retire2thailand.com.

Hugh’s advice for the month: I recently got introduced to facebook.com. I was able to hook up with friends that I hadn’t heard from in many decades. You’ll know what your friends have been up to and they will know about you _ without having to send out individual emails. Information overkill? Maybe, but I enjoy it.