Building a Better Bloke

Home or Away?

Posted in Careers, Philosophy, Status, Travel by Sam de Brito on December 11, 2009

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.

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8 Responses

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  1. Mark Darby said, on December 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

    It is possible to travel and keep a relationship going at a distance. I was on the road in the US and Europe for 9 months of the year and managed to maintain daily contact with my fiancée. I guess it comes down to how committed you are to the other person and what you’re willing to sacrifice to make it work.

    I’m a much better partner because of my globetrotting and have a more universal outlook on the world. Particularly coming back and realising that Sydney is not the centre of the universe and there are places where the skinniness of your jeans and the length of your fringe matters very little.

    • Kayandy said, on February 4, 2010 at 1:49 am

      Just returned from 4 months in Asia, Europe and the US. Gained the same outlook you describe and also realised the (left-behind, ex) girlfriend was actually more important to me than I ever thought.

      Sometimes you need to experience a different life to appreciate what you had.

      Yup, I won her back quick smart, and couldn’t be happier!

  2. Yojohnny said, on December 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Interesting post.

    I say this: If she means something, you wouldnt risk leaving her behind. But, if you can leave her behind, then run! Do the travelling now because down the track it might not be so easy.

    I’m 30 an doing india in Feb. I’m doing it with 3 other single mates. This is out window of opportunity because i do not want to do it with a GF. I did Europe with a GF and that was tough but imagine India when you’re spraying your arse everywhere that it looks like a pro hart stainmaster commercial?

    If she is worth it: stay or taker her with you. If shes isnt worth it, well, do india and say goodbye to your decending colon.

    • freckles said, on December 12, 2009 at 8:44 am

      OOoooo, take her to India with you to find out if she is worth it!!! It is only undergoing the fires of adversity together (ie bali belly, transport chaos, jet lag, language barriers, etc.) that you will know if you will function well together under pressure. You may think she is worth everything, until you see how she treats you and others when she has the descending colon.

      I loved “Up”. I think the most rewarding thing in life would be to have a good marriage, to your best friend. I guess you can have that if you treat your partner like a best friend. I loved how the scrapbook at the end showed snapshots of their marriage and the everyday as the great adventure. I think that was the point. Life is the adventure. Even the mundane is the part of the adventure. Trick is to realise it.

  3. Bender said, on December 12, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Makle a choice. Stick with it. Make it work either way.

    Constantly having analysis paralysis will get you nowhere. Constantly thinking that there are too many choices all the time and you want to do them all but you’re not sure which one and what if you make the wrong choice………………………………..


    Picture where you want to be at 50. Picture where you’ll need to be at 50. Do what is necessary to get there.

    Otherwise, all this lollygagging about, flip-flopping from one thing to another might lead you directly to where you won’t want to be. A passionaless relationship because all the good ones were taken and weren’t interested in a guy with a dead-end job because you didn’t concentrate on your studies when you were young and ended up too old and knew that there were younger/hungrier/more dedicated guys out there willing to do the hard yards to make it to the top.

    Tiesto’s Just Be is on-topic:

    You can travel the world
    But you can’t run away
    From the person you are in your heart
    You can be who you want to be
    Make us believe in you
    Keep all your light in the dark
    If you’re searchin for truth
    You must look in the mirror
    And make sense of what you can see
    Just be
    Just be

    They say learning to love yourself
    Is the first step
    That you take when you want to be real
    Flying on planes to exotic locations
    Won’t teach you
    How you really feel
    Face up to the fact
    That you are who you are
    Nothing can change that belief
    Just be
    Just be

    ’cause now I know
    It’s not so far
    To where I go
    The hardest part
    Is inside me
    I need
    To just be
    Just be

    Just be
    Just be
    Just be

    I was lost
    And I’m still lost
    But I feel so much better

    ’cause now I know
    It’s not so far
    To were I go
    The hardest part
    Is inside me
    I need
    To just be
    Just be

  4. Mark Smith said, on December 12, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

    ….or become an accountant who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    I use an accountant as an example because my CEO at work is one. Early 40s, 2 kids and a loveless marriage. Worked hard all his life but has no passion, is narrow minded and from what I can tell is completely miserable.

    Waiting until you’re 50 to start living is a fool’s errand. The assumption that human beings have a used by date and do not have the capacity to reinvent themselves at any point in their life is an arrogant and limiting believe.

    Focusing on one thing is by no means bad, but it need not be mutually exclusive with going out and experiencing the world.

  5. grape soda badge said, on December 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

    This is timely. We’ve just finished watching “UP”. (not my first time) The first part, showing Ellie and Carl’s life together, always reduces me to tears. I think there are so many life issues addressed in this movie. Grieving, holding on to the past, letting go, parenting, loyalty, greed, gratitude, friendship, etc. Carl and Ellie are precious. I have to remember that kind of marital perfection is limited to the movies. But we can dream can’t we?

    Anyway, adventure ceases if we are too entrenched and comfortable in our recliners. Never too late to get off your arse and change things, and live life. You just have to expect a lot of bruises and skinned knees, choosing to do so. Life and love can hurt!

    I understood new things watching the movie again. Russel “Assisted the Elderly” by assisting Carl into the present, and new relationships.

  6. Rafe said, on December 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm


    4 years ago I was in a fantastic relationship with a woman that I thought I loved. She knew me quite well, but was taken by surprise when I turned around to her and said that I was going overseas, with or without her, that was up to her. She moved in with her parents the next day.

    My reasoning to her was that I had to go and work overseas. This was something that I had wanted to do since I was in high school, and she knew about these aspirations since before we’d gotten together (we had been friends for years before we became ‘romantically’ involved). If I didn’t go overseas to travel then over the years I would end up holding it against her on some level.

    She moved back in a week later. We moved overseas for 3 years, traveled Europe together and have now returned home to get married (and apparently have kids).

    I think it is possible to do both, not easy, but then life never is.

    We have a 5-10year lag on some of our friends in the housing department and due to our travels we have lost a lot of friends who aren’t going in the same direction as us anymore. However now have some good experiences to base our future family life on, fantastic memories, and have grown together…

    “The only thing holding you back, is you”

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