Europe… in or out?

Our future if we leave the EU?
Our future if we leave the EU?


“So… in or out?”

It’s the British equivalent of “What the f**k do we do about Trump?” – the conversation starter of choice at dinner tables around the country.

Later this year, there’ll be a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU, or if it should scarper – leaving Merkel et al. with no one around to discuss the weather or debate imperial vs metric.

Most people assume that Rob and I would prefer to stay firmly “in”, because we’re digital nomads and we spend a lot of time in Europe. By leaving the EU, there’s a risk we’ll no longer be able to live indefinitely in any EU country, that cheap flights will be a thing of the past, and that data roaming using our UK sim cards will suddenly skyrocket. And it’s true: there’s a (small) risk that all those things will happen – among many others that will potentially make it a far bigger nuisance to travel in Europe.

But if we think our lives will be irrevocably damaged by any of those situations, then we’re the ones with the problem. For starters, far worse things have happened to far better people. But setting aside the “starving children in Africa” argument, it indicates that we’re at the mercy of external forces beyond our control. And it implies that we have less command over our own lives (and our own minds) than we think.

If the British public opts for “Brexit”, we should be able to handle it with equanimity and flexibility. We can see it as an opportunity to explore more of the world, or spend time in some of the cheaper European countries (because it’ll cost such a fortune to get there), or something else. It doesn’t matter: the point is there’ll be a practical way to figure it out and move on.

It’s the case with most situations: it’s all about mindset.

This is easier said than done, of course. I’ll readily admit that I’m nowhere near close to living the Seneca-esque life of detachment from circumstance: put me anywhere near a tent, or force me to take the window seat, and I’ll whine like a premenstrual teenager. But it’s something I’m trying to improve, because life’s ultimate freedom is in being able to deal with whatever gets thrown our way – and doing so positively.

When it comes to “In or out?”, this approach allows us both to vote for purely ideological reasons, rather than what we’re scared of. Which means that all we have left to worry about is: what the f**k do we do about Trump?