Yesterday’s post ended with a quote from the book, Lost & Found, by Brooke Davis.
“In their life, Karl and Evie didn’t go anywhere, ever. They were each other’s foreign countries. Only unhappy people leave home, Evie declared.”
With such a global perspective in today’s society, this statement makes for some interesting discussion. Unsure whether or not that was the intention of the author, for many people (world travelers/expats/diplomats/missionaries/NGO workers – just to name a few), it can hit a nerve. The knee-jerk reaction is not so pleasant. It hits where the heart longs to be – in exploration.
Let’s examine four different scenarios. Working on the premise that life is meant to be lived happily, a depth of perception (or dose of reality) is a great starting point. Each view below offers insight and reflection into a world that crosses happiness with understanding.
View #1 – The Danger Zone
There are multiple events around the world that are currently causing distress for citizens. War, famine, natural disaster and human rights violations cease the ability for many to live as happily as possible. Abusive relationships, substance addiction, mental health concerns, and chronic disease all threaten the feeling and perception of being happy, relative to each individuals thought processes. Some may see fleeing home as a coping mechanism and a rational move for self-preservation and survival. Just as many fled the scene and streets of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit the shore, there were also many who remained. Did only unhappy people leave their home?
View #2 – The Explorer Gene
Us humans are curious creatures. Just as Evie and Karl explore one another as a foreign country, there are some of us that seek exploration outside another individual. Some of us dream of exploring the great pyramids of Egypt, or shopping along the famous Silk Road, maybe even meditating in the tranquility of a Vipassana center in India. Other curiosities may seem more simple, like the pleasure of tasting a new ice cream flavor, researching a new topic of interest, reading a new book, or watching the latest trending YouTube video.
The contentment received once the curiosity is satisfied leads to happiness. The calm sweeps over our mind with answers and memories. Until the next unknown arrives in it’s place. With that line of logic, we would need to believe curiosity itself leads us to a state of unhappiness (read more on that here). Curiosity is what leads us away from our own, controlled domain, venturing off into the unknown. The ever popular saying, ‘curiosity killed the cat’ may have some weight on this issue. However, not everyone lets the curiosity lead them away from home. At least not in the physical sense – the mind may wander unbeknownst to mankind. If this is correct, do only the unhappy leave home?
View #3 – The Need for Independence
Rearing children requires much patience and understanding. It’s about building a relationship that is fluid, changing over time, yet keeping a sense of stability in tact for all seasons. Parenthood is tricky business. Moms and dads around the world find joy and happiness in sharing memories with their children. They celebrate in the accomplishments of their offspring, soothe the pain of disappointment and teach them to depend on their own abilities. Healthy children become healthy and productive adults. They leave the nest that mom and dad built over the years. They spread their wings and fly. But, do only the unhappy ones leave home?
View #4 – The Defining Point
Returning to the original quote of the book, the author takes the stance that ‘Home’ is each other for Karl and Evie. The couple find exploring the personality, character, quirks and bodies of one another enough to satisfy their curiosity of the world. Nothing gives them more pleasure than learning more about each other. The author uses the statement as a peculiar way to describe the absolute ‘true love’ between the couple. The statement implies that true love leads to happiness and is attainable by everyone.
True love requires loyalty, connectedness, and desire. If it is the goal of life, in order to be happy, then the search for true love becomes a sport, as shown in the rising memberships of online dating sites. The statement asserts that only true love can make you happy. Many would argue that ‘True Love’ is rare, and almost nonexistent, especially in cultures where arranged marriages are still considered normal. The numbers of those involved in the release of information during the Ashley Madison scandal only feeds fuel to the fire on that theory. Common reasoning infers many homes were broken over the breach of trust. Many spouses/partners may have thought true love was found for both and the heartbreak was unbearable. Perhaps, some left feeling the victim. Perhaps, some left the relationship feeling relieved. So, do only unhappy people leave home?
The problem of the statement is not within the realm that unhappy people leave home. There are hundreds of situations where one would argue leaving home is the best decision, even a necessary evil. It’s not even an issue of how you define home, or to what degree of happiness is needed to stay. No. The problem of the statement, rather, is simply the use of the word ONLY. The exclusive, segregating, implying word of ONLY.
Do only unhappy people leave home, or do some happy people leave home, too?
Until tomorrow –
Cheers & Champagne,