“Well, if there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” – Luke Skywalker “Episode IV: A New Hope”
The Geographical Cure is the idea that enters in to our mind suggesting that the grass is always greener on the other side. We decide that if we were to change our location and find a place where we are meant to be we will find peace and happiness. All our problems will be resolved by moving to another town, city, state or country.
Psychologists have shown that the Geographical Cure works some of the time for some people but in most cases the benefit is temporary. The flip side of the Geographical Cure is the fact that when moving from one place to another we are moving. No matter where I go, there I will find me. So if I want real change in my life, moving to a Greek Island or French Provence might sound ideal but it is unlikely to change my mind or behaviors. Believe me I tried.
As a kid we moved around a lot. You could’ve called us Gypsies. I won’t list them here but before I completed the 7th Grade I had moved from one end of the country to the other and attended over 20 different schools. The adventure was only interrupted briefly by social services that placed me and my siblings in to State Care for a period of time. The reason for the constant moving was a parent who was alcoholic and was a strong believer in the Geographical Cure. If anyone proved that the Geographical Cure does not work, it was my Father.
Like Father I also moved around a lot mostly to get away from myself. Getting to somewhere new, becoming familiar with the people and the culture, making new friends was intoxicating at first. The problem of course was when I got to any of the numerous places I chose as “ideal” I soon ran in to myself. Then the real “intoxication” would begin and so would the dramas and the scandal that ensued.
It was then only a matter of time before I made my excuses and tried somewhere else. I’m probably the only person who ever tried to make Aliyah to Israel and got told “no longer welcome and don’t come back” by my exasperated hosts. Its a bad sign when an entire country doesn’t want you.
Book of Stamps
After many years of wandering the globe I did not have any major epiphanies, there were no resounding breakthroughs and I was alcoholic. Traveling and drinking tend to go hand in glove.
On return home I could boast an International bar crawl that had taken me to over 30 countries in 5 continents. I even had a collection of glass coastere from Pubs around the world. There was no Geographical Cure for me, just a steady decline and then a plunge to “Rock Bottom”. I became recovered in the same town I had left 27 years earlier to join the Army and “see the world”.
I still get the urge for Geographical Cure. Perhaps in my sobriety I realize that despite the many stamps in tattered passports and the grainy photos of me getting plastered with unrecognizable people in exotic locations, I didn’t really get to see the world or experience life as it is meant to be. The travel bug remains. I wonder if I had the chance again would I do it differently or would I see the world through beer goggles once more.
At times when people and life pisses me off I imagine a small cottage on a Greek Island or in the foot hills of the Pyrenees. Fishing, hiking, writing and reading and mostly being alone. Then I remember people will probably annoy me there too and life will still be difficult. Running away from our problems does not solve them, it often makes them worse.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
Home is where you make it
Moving town, city, state or country may or may not make us happier. It really depends on your definition of happiness. There are places I longed for and when I got there I was disappointed. Was it the place or me? A place does not care, it exists in spite of us. We stand there in the same body and look upon it with the same set of eyes. When we bring ourselves, happiness can be found on a paradise like Naboo or on a hell hole like Tatooine. Happiness comes from within and so does change.
So when Luke Skywalker looked at the twin suns setting on Tatooine and dreamed of getting off world to join the Rebellion he was looking for a Geographical Cure. Life as a moisture farmer on an outer rim planet that no one cares about can be pretty glum. Luke was like his father wanting adventure, travel and purpose. He was impatient and wanted to run away. The reality of life as a fugitive, rebel and Jedi soon caught up with him.
Forty years later we find Luke as an old man on the “Jedi idyllic” setting of Ahch-To, on a rock in the middle of a cold and wind swept oceanic planet. I wonder if Luke had found his Geographic Cure. I guess we will find out in “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”.
“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” – Confucius