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yu-en-me ´a man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher, .. he who goes from country to country guided by blind impulses of curiosity is .. a vagabond.´ - oliver goldsmith

'it's not you; it's me' (aka: the real reason why i'm leaving)

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 24 December 2007 | Views [920] | Comments [1]

On all of the previous occasions that I’ve left Melbourne to go travelling, it was always the lure of unknown places that motivated me. Never (and this is worth repeating: NEVER) have I left as a way to ‘escape’ or because I wanted to get away from something. If anything, that was one of the only downfalls to going away: missing home. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me after a couple of months that I was so desperate to leave again, and even more of a surprise was the reason: that I was no longer comfortable at home.

When I first got back, I felt incredibly guilty each time I went out. Spending AU$2.50 on a coffee was a great extravagance in itself, not to mention whole meals or tickets to see things. It was a real effort to try and enjoy simple things for what they were without the guilt of constantly thinking ‘this would be worth X in country Y’. Unfortunately for me, the ‘simple’ pleasures quickly led to higher expectations. On one of my last nights out before I left Melbourne, I was much happier having an interesting chat for a few hours on the footpath outside the Arts Centre, than during the show that we’d just been to see (and that’s not to say that the show wasn’t fantastic). After all, the only thing I really wanted was to spend quality time with my friends again. But it was during that late-night chat that I realised that my idea of ‘quality time’ was shifting. We’d just witnessed a minor drunken altercation on the road, and a good friend turned to me and said ‘I bet that’s why you can’t wait to get away’, not realising that our small tiff earlier on (when it seemed we might miss the show) was more the reason. The whole purpose of going out that night, in my mind, was to see her - with or without the show, - and I began wondering if maybe, with all the wonderful things on offer, I was starting to forget that.  

I think if we stop to think about it, most of us would be quite happy to sit on the grass in the sun for a few hours with a friend, or lounge around at home with nothing more than a glass of water and great conversation. My problem was that I was getting used to how easy life is, and starting to take it for granted. Let’s face it: unless you were born with only two limbs, no opposable thumbs and a sensory impairment, life is good in most developed countries. In Melbourne, there are jobs everywhere if you’re not fussy, the healthcare is fantastic, and your rights are protected by almost every union or body imaginable. And then there’s all the *stuff* you can buy; go to any shopping centre or hop on the internet, and you’re pretty much guaranteed anything you could possibly need or want. Actually no, I’ll revise that last sentence, and take out the word ‘want’. Because that’s the thing, isn’t it, that the more you have, the more you want? And it’s mind-boggling how quickly what you want makes the leap to what you think you need!

Essentially, that’s why I was so happy to get out of Australia and am so eager to leave New Zealand (where I am now). Call me chicken or weak, but I suspect that I don’t have the strength to live by my principles in such an easy environment. I really admire a couple of my friends who can maintain vegan lifestyles, not get caught up in materialistic wants, and work in areas which they believe in and which benefit society. I feel like in the three months back in Australasia, I spent and consumed more than I did in one year away, when I was more conscious of what I was doing. Melbourne may be far from dangerous when it comes to economic strife, personal safety, or sticky political situations, but it’s a risky place for my personal values. Cowardly as it may seem, I sure as hell don’t want to test how far I could stray from my beliefs by staying longer in a place where temptations are everywhere. While I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to see friends and family again, I leave feeling even more convinced that I'm doing the right thing for me. If I'm in a place where I can’t get a great camera with fantastic functions, and where pretty headscarves aren’t on sale for $30 each, then I'm not going to waste time wondering if I want or need them, right? Out of sight really is out of mind!

Tags: Philosophy of travel

Comments

1

Hi Yuen,

Wow, time flies fast! You've been back and have left again and I didn't even realise. Anyhow, I just wouldve wanted to introduce you to Bear and have a yak. Things sound good with you - I understand your desire to return o/s and to a less cluttered lifestyle. Good luck to you.
Bear and I have bought a house in Northcote on the Merri Creek and I've sold my house so we've got to pack up and move. But first we're going down to Ocean grove for 10 days at the beach and then a quick trip to visit friends in southern NSW then back to Melb to pack and clean. We're having a ball.

Anyhow, my boxing day seediness is calling me back to bed (or maybe Bear is...) Hugs, Love and best wishes, Nina the shameless one.

Looking forward to your next installment.....

  nina Dec 26, 2007 7:04 PM

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