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"Emotional Baggage" from School of Life online store
The first time I heard of the philosopher Alain de Botton was when interviewing expats for the Displaced Nation's Random Nomad series. Several of them said they were reading de Botton's The Art of Travel, a series of essays exploring what inspires us to escape the humdrum and purchase tickets to an exotic island, tromp through the countryside, wander Rome...
Perhaps it’s appropriate that I came to De Botton through the Displaced Nation. Born to a prominent and phenomenally wealthy Jewish family—his father, a financier, had been forcibly displaced from Egypt—Alain grew up in both Switzerland and the UK. An Adult Third Culture Kid, he comes across as European, English, both and neither.
But the reason I’m returning to de Botton today is because of the project he started around six years ago called the School of Life. De Botton thinks we can lead more fulfilled lives by connecting with writers and artists of various eras.
Click here to watch Alain de Botton on Art as Therapy
Though it would be too grand to claim that we are trying to run a School of Expat Life here at the Displaced Nation, De Botton’s lecture on this topic struck a chord with me, and I'd like to dedicate the next few dispatches to talking about how some of his School of Life principles apply to us and our goal of showcasing the works of international creatives.
Tune in next week for my first such missive.
And for those who are aware that de Botton is often accused of being a “high-brow self-help guru”—I figure that if that’s what we’re up to here, we could do worse.
Which leads me to: If you can read only one post on our site this month, make it yesterday’s tribute to our seven monthly columnists. Each of them has offered ideas to exercise, stimulate and expand one's mind.By following their posts, you will learn to think creatively about the central emotional concerns of the displaced life. Alain de Botton would heartily approve!
ELSEWHERE IN THE DISPLACED BLOGOSPHERE
- In a post for GaijinPot, Bernadette Low informs us that being a Singaporean Chinese in Tokyo is no picnic. No one is clamoring to be friends with her, and Japanese men prefer Japanese women, not other Asians. What’s more, she is always getting into trouble for being “loud and opinionated.”
- But if you listen to Reda Wigle, being an American abroad is not much fun either. Stereotypes abound, Wigle says in a recent post for Matador Network, which is why some Americans pretend to be Canadian. But not her! Meeting Yanks posing as Canucks is first on her list of ten things that have “pissed her off” during her overseas travels, another being “unsolicited political conversation.” (Lions and tigers and bears—oh, my!)