Home or Away?
By Craig Lennox
A little while ago I saw the animated film UP.
It is a film for children, with bright, bold colours, amusing characters and a simple and entertaining story. And like many of the kids’ films being produced at the moment it has plenty for the parents, or adults who don’t mind watching kids’ movies.
To briefly summarise; a young boy with dreams of becoming an adventurer and explorer meets a young girl with the same dreams.
They grow up, get married and grow old together, all the while saving for and dreaming of the day they can travel to the South American jungle …
The now old man feels lost when his wife dies before they can undertake their journey. He initially settles into a life of sadness
and boredom, before he decides against this and sets off for the jungle, knowing it’s what his wife would have wanted.
He meets new people, makes new friends, is challenged in many ways, and in the end his life is rich and fulfilling thanks to his adventure, and despite the loss of his wife.
Thinking about the film and its themes a few days later I thought of a question for the old man.
I wanted to know which of his two life experiences – married life with a “soulmate” or his adventure into danger and the unknown, was the more rewarding.
In my limited experience, anyone happily married will say their marriage is the most rewarding part of their life, and furthermore,
any parent will say that having children is the best thing they have in their life.
If this is the case, then it seems my question is answered, and the answer is appropriate: despite the fun and adventure the old man had after the loss of his wife, he would probably say his years of marriage were his happiest.
But what is a young man (or anyone) to do when presented with a choice?
He’s beginning a career after finishing high school and maybe going to university or learning a trade. Working hard and saving some cash for a few years, as well as gaining some experience and moving up the career ladder is attractive for all those reasons related to being “stable” and “secure”.
He might also have had a girlfriend for a while. Moving in together or even buying a house could be a good way to improve and mature the relationship. Getting married and having kids in a few years might even be an option.
This is a fairly typical scenario for someone in their twenties or thirties (or forties), and the answer to my question above would
suggest that this is the road to take. A marriage, and maybe a family, is there for the taking, and with that the most rewarding and happiest years of life.
So why not?
Although it may not be as “less-travelled” a road as some backpackers might think, exploring and working overseas are still amazing and life-changing experiences. And enjoying them as much as possible, which may involve visiting places you don’t tell your parents about or hiking over mountain ranges, is easier when you’re young and stupid.
So do you take the senior position, take out a mortgage, get down on one knee and put a ring on it? Or do you disappear for a few years to work in England, volunteer somewhere in Mongolia or Ghana, and relax on a beach in Albania?
Can you do both?
A relationship “on hold” so you can “go away for a few years” is most-likely doomed to fail.
You could try to find a compromise where you go overseas with your girlfriend, but instantly your “lone wolf traversing the globe” persona is gone and you have to start wondering whether couch-surfing across the middle-east is such a great idea with your future father-in-law’s only daughter tagging along.
It’s a tough decision, and throwing divorce-rate statistics into the mix only makes things harder.
I didn’t realise writing about a children’s movie would become so complicated.
If you liked this piece, check out Craig’s other post here.