Over and over again, I see other travelers, as well as myself, get accused of trying to “run away” from our problems. (Why else would someone choose a life of expanding horizons and constant adventure when they could be enjoying a mundane desk job, slaving away to earn enough to pay the mortgage on a house their never in because they’re always working?) The standard reply is that we are not running away from life – we are running towards it. I agree. Though I would take things a step further. I think you can run away from your problems (at least some of them). Consider the following:
Psychology has identified Seasonal Affective Disorder, as a type of depression which effects people at the same time every year. Symptoms include overeating and oversleeping, lack of energy, withdrawal from social activities etc. It is believed that the main cause of this disorder is lack of sunlight.
Guess what? The cold, short days of winter are something you can run away from! If we can’t hibernate, why not migrate? I recall a conversation I had with a friend when she told me that her family was moving from their home on the Oregon coast to the big island of Hawaii. “Isn’t it expensive,” I asked. “We can be broke anywhere,” she replied. “At least this way, we’ll be broke and warm.”
Then there are those persistent memories. I come from a beautiful place. But it’s also the place that I happened to be during the darkest periods of my life. There are memories and associations around every corner. Moods sneak up from behind and ambush me. I may not be able to outrun every memory, but by changing location I can run away from a lot of them.
The Pity Party
One thing that strikes me again and again is how much of what you get in life is due to where, when and to whom you were born. If you are able to travel, chances are good that you did pretty well in this lottery. It’s harder to wallow in self-pity when you are confronted with people who are worse off than you. And the fact is, a lot of people are worse off than you. Traveling in the “developing” world reminds me how lucky I am; how lucky to have been raised in a middle class family, to have English as my native language, to have gotten an education, to live during a time when airplanes can whisk me to the other side of the planet. Self-indulgence is a great thing to run away from.
Literally on the Run
Whenever I’ve stayed in any exotic location for very long, I’ve met people who are literally running away. They fit into three categories. First there are those who run away from a relationship – didn’t bother getting a divorce, just left the country and are now living happily on the other side of the planet (often with a new family). Next we find those who turn their back and run away from debt – be it credit cards or student loans – and disappear into another country. A lot of people do this. Then there are those who, if they do decide to go home, will be provided with free housing (a small cell with bars). I’m not condoning this behavior and for the record, I do not fit into any of these categories. However, from what I’ve observed, a lot of people do seem to be able to avoid past consequences by a simple change in geography.
Therefore, I would like to propose that the three most important things in real estate – location, location, location, are also pretty important in life. It may well be true that you will be happier in one place than in another. So if one can run away to a place where the sun shines, where their money goes farther, where they are reminded over and over again how lucky they are – why shouldn’t they?