“You’re just running away” the proverbial You shouts.
Ok, well, lets run with that for a bit. That’s usually the cop out, the fear and (if unraveled deep enough) the longing. Many respond with a knee-jerk “No I’m not”, but why not own up to it.
Yes, I am running away.
Or at least we can say “I am running.” I am in movement against the inertia of externally imposed motion. Of frustrated motion. Of the treadmill of the wake-work-eat-sleep life that expends an enormous amount of energy yet doesn’t lead to anywhere I really want to go.
This running is shaped by two directions: away and towards. All directed movement can be seen as going away from some-thing and towards some-thing else. But which direction is one’s one’s central focus?
1. Away: framing one’s goals and one’s identity in the negative, as being or moving against something (the “rat race” etc.) One’s sense of freedom and identity is dependent upon some other condition existing as it is. This is where its main weakness lies. It promotes provisional self-esteem.
2. Toward: framing one’s goals and one’s identity in the positive, as being or moving for something (time wealth; meaningful experience). One’s sense of freedom and identity is independent (or at least a lot less dependent) of some other condition existing as it is. This is where its main strength lies. It promotes true self-esteem.
Running From and Toward What?
What are you running from?
Many are running from a culture with an overwhelming amount of control over their time and a set of psychological and financial obligations that weaken their sense of self-direction.
What are you running towards?
Many are running towards a life with a greater degree of time-wealth and a greater sense of self-direction by mitigating the psychological and financial obligations that caused those two conditions in the first place.
If time is the supreme measure of wealth, then many are running away from a culture that impoverishes them and toward a life that is more rich.
The financial obligations that allow or disallow this differ immensely from person to person, but in general the practice of being frugal and the idea of “deferred consumption” help with the latter.
To truly be “running away” requires not only a physical movement but a psychological distancing from the conditioning that created the conditions for time-poverty and weakened self direction.
The weight of the past is heavy and we carry that weight even when a) we are not in the past and b) we are not in the place where the past occurred.
Technologies like social media help us to stay connected with those back home but they also keep us connected to the weight of the past we are trying to alter by physically moving away from that home for a bit. Developing a relationship with these technologies is essential … and maybe send a postcard instead of an email every once in a while.
So keep running — just not on the treadmill!