Have you ever felt that you need time out from your life?
Would you like to one day just jump on a horse and ride into the sunset?
A friend of mine recently went overseas for ten days to visit some family. Soon afterwards, she told me that she felt overwhelmed at home. She wanted to go back to Europe and leave her children with her husband. I know that she will never do this, but I started thinking about it.
What it was that made her feel this way?
I also feel sometimes like running away. Small kids, teenager and husband can take its toll. Especially around 5 pm (suicide hour) when everyone wants something from you and it is not all the same thing!
What’s so appealing about running away and leaving it all behind?
Can You Do a Shirley Valentine?
Let’s say that you run off and leave everyone behind, like in the movie Shirley Valentine. Ok, it worked for her, but why? Her marriage, her relationship with her children, her relationships with her friends were all so meaningless, that she had to find meaning somewhere else.
Personally, I think that is really sad and hectic, to take a life of 40 odd years and realise that there is no meaning in it. I would also run away I suppose. So Shirley Valentine only started living on that Greek island. Her whole life before that amounted to nothing that she valued. The weight of being someone else on a Greek Island was more than her whole life she left behind in England.
So, what is that about? She felt free in Greece, free from the trappings, monotony, and boredom of her life in England. Of course the problem is when she starts to create a life for herself in Greece, would she still be able to give it meaning?
She will be working, and find a partner and go shopping and get stuck in traffic and read books and watch TV (albeit in a different language!).
However, she will still continue have a life just as she had in England. Friends with which to go out with and play Bingo with.
Will she really find herself not talking to a wall again?
Can you really ever get away from yourself!?
The Real Predicament
So really what is the question? Is it better to start anew if you find your life meaningless, or is it better to take what you have and get meaning from that?
You met someone and married and had children and created a career and a life. Is this not hugely meaningful? Do you not have meaning to those around you? Is it not incredibly selfish to leave those who need you and depend on you?
Perhaps the problem is not that there is no meaning in your life as it is, but rather that you are unable to see it.
Or perhaps, you should endeavour not to allow your life to become meaningless in the first place. Can you find nothing in this life which you are good at or enjoy or love?
Freedom is different things to different people. I am not talking about freedom in the broad sense, but personal, in your life right now.
Do you feel completely bogged down by your responsibilities? Is this the reason for your longing for freedom?
Let’s consider this for a moment.
More time to yourself, less responsibility, free to have sex with someone else, free to drink and drug it up, doing only what you want to do, have total autonomy. Please feel free to add whatever you think constitutes freedom to you here.
But just imagine having all that freedom. Would you really be free? No, you would probably not feel free at all, because you would find yourself living a life with no meaning yet again.
Freedom Means Living a Life Filled with Meaning
So Where Are you At?
How can you separate who you are from the life you are currently living? Surely it is not a mistake that you are where you are.
You got to this point as a culmination of all the choices (conscious and unconscious) that you have made.
• If you are a fatalist and find yourself here because it just happened, I suggest to you that it is exactly where you should be.
• If you find yourself here because you planned to be here, I suggest to you as well that it is exactly where you should be.
It is not a coincidence that this is your life!
It reflects who you are and what is important to you, and if it doesn’t, reassess what you want and what is important to you. You CAN have it all – freedom and meaning right here.
This idea is explored in Stephen’s blog “Becoming”.
What is your definition of freedom? Do you think it is possible to have meaning and freedom?
This is a guest post from Anja Van Kralingen – read more inspiring articles about the meaning of life at her blog In Pursuit of Meaning.