"You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another." - Ernest Hemingway, THE SUN ALSO RISES
Fight or flight? Run off to join the circus or remain to face your fate? Haven't we all at one time considered running away? How many bandanas have been wrapped around sticks holding peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies? How many times has someone uttered, "I need to run out for a pack of cigarettes," and never returned?
And when our instincts tell us to run, are we trying to run away from or toward ourselves?
Genetically speaking, I was born with sand in my shoes as I hale from a long line of restless vagabonds in search of something. Peace? Love? Money? Success? God? Meaning? Who knows. Probably a little of each.
Last night as I tried in vain to fall asleep, I wondered what my motivation is for running away today to India. Am I looking to escape from my everyday reality by going so far away and to a place so foreign, or am I wanting to meet my true self by putting myself in a situation where I cannot rely in my usual props and conveniences?
Do you remember the scene in DEAD POET'S SOCIETY when Professor Keating (Robin Williams) asks his students to stand on top of their desks? He says, "why do I stand up here? To remind myself that we must constantly look at things a different way."
I imagine that in India much of what my westernized life deems important will become useless. That living in a culture so foreign from mine for even a short time will allow me to look at my life a different way. That the important things will take on a new significance in my heart, and the things I've held onto that have no true value will fall away.
Indian poet Rabindrath Tagore wrote, "You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water." So, I will cross the sea(s) today not, like Mr. Hemingway noted, in a futile attempt to get away from myself but to see myself and my life from a completely new perspective.
Carpe Diem, Professor Keating.