How Long Will You Stay?

When I was younger I always wanted to become a pilot.

Being a pilot just seemed like something I was destined to do.  My family supported me, everyone I knew thought I should do it.  I worked at an airport, spoke to pilots, took classes at the community college, planned on joining the United States Air Force, applied to flight schools all over America.  I was actually going to move to Florida where I would pursue my life’s intention of becoming a metal bird.

No matter how many great things surrounded the idea of flying a plane, one thing always held me back, “How long will I be away from my family?”

I didn’t have a family of my own.  I didn’t live on my own.  Sure, I had loved ones, but that wasn’t the family I was talking about.  I was talking about the anticipated love of a wife, several children, with a girl being the oldest, a backyard, maybe on a ranch, with a house painted white with decorative green details.  There was a time when that was my dream, my aspirations, my, “maybe someday.”

As the years went past, my dreams of becoming a pilot along with my dreams of having a family dissipated as I matured.  Maybe I started living in the present, I really don’t know.  It’s almost impossible to remember how I pictured how everything would be back in my more naive days.

I never took up piloting, even with knowing how adventurous it sounded.

I seemed to always be the type of person who’d wonder how long he could stay instead of where he could go next.

How Long Will You Stay?

I enjoy reading a lot of blogs that talk about location independence.  How certain people all over the blogosphere can just get up and go as they please.  For some people it’s not just a weekend vacation, taking pictures and standing in front of statues and buildings.  For some, it’s a bulk four months out of their lives learning culture, eating food, and wording foreign phrases.  The idea that you can’t do London in a week.  How long then?  How long does it take to get the full experience of where you are?  Is it really four months?  What constitutes when you should leave?  By the end of four months, is it really possible to just cut off all ties and just leave.  No looking back.

I understand that I won’t get to see the rest of the world if I stay in one place, but what if maybe I could just wait until the place where I am becomes barren.  I kind of want to wait until I truly have a reason to leave.  I just really don’t see the point in leaving to go somewhere new, if I still really like where I am.

Lenka and I broke up.


26 responses to “How Long Will You Stay?

  1. The beauty about travel is that it teaches you lessons even when you think a lesson doesn’t need to be taught.

    I’m curious: are you content on staying put because it’s comfortable?

    Sometimes life can get *too* comfortable. I’ve felt comfort in a lot of things (girls, location, education, dreams, etc) but have changed them anyways. It always seems to be for the right reason. I’m better when I’m constantly forced to adapt.

    Sorry to hear about you and Lenka.

    • I think I’m very different. Growing up I was always at war with something. I was always trying harder to move forward with things, and learn things, and break things, and change people’s belief systems. I would almost give anything for a few days of a comfortable mess. I think that’s why I spent most of my time in bed with Lenka, not doing anything.

      I know that we can’t become lazy and tired all our lives, but I feel some of us who’ve constantly felt burdened deserve some “comfort.”

  2. 😦 I’m sorry to hear about you and Lenka. I hope you’re okay. If you need to talk, you know where to find me.

  3. 😦 sorry to hear about you and Lenka. heart hurts for you.

  4. Even former metal birds need time to figure out their wings:) I’m actually moving somewhere totally new for the first time for four months just as stereotyped, but who knows what part of the globe will call next, or maybe one place will suck me in like a magnet forever (even though the thought is depressing!) I can only speak for myself, but I wouldn’t worry too much about location thing… independence is an amazing thing we all like to talk about, but in the end it’s really just the reverse of dependence…which confines us to thinking of ourselves in relation to other people and things, you know? Thanks for the inspiration there, I do believe it’s the first time I’ve ever broken that down.

    I’m a total stranger but I wish you the best.

  5. Beautifully put Jonathan and something I often ponder. I used to have such itchy feet and moved around a lot. I feel like recently I have feel settled for the first time ever so don’t want to think about moving although there is always a little part of me thinking that way. I am sorry to hear about you and Lenka. Jen x

  6. How do you know the family you kept dreaming about isn’t in London/Paris/Rome? How do you know you wouldn’t get on better with girls over there? I am a blogger with itchy feet, contemplating 12 months in Australia next year. I’ve never been but it sounds nice! And if you go somewhere and spend four months and love it – who’s to say you won’t love the next place just as much? Life’s too short to stay in one place.

    And then after it all you can look back and find the place you love the most. And maybe it will be your hometown or maybe it will be that beach in Bali, but why not take the chance?

    Break-ups suck, so I hope it was mutual or that you did the breaking part. Chin up!

  7. There was something slightly off about this post and I couldn’t figure out why until I finished. I’m so sorry for you. You seemed really happy.

    That question you posed has a multitude of meanings, and I think you hit on some of them. How long will you stay the same person? How long will you stay where you are, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well?

    I hope you’re doing okay.

    • I’m doing fine, thank you Kaleigh. At some point I know I wanted to see the rest of the world, but somehow couldn’t bring myself to part from where I already was. I feel like I left too soon.

  8. Two thoughts:
    1. There is something to be said for gaining truly deep knowledge on one subject, location or person. That is just as beautiful in it’s own right. Me personally, I prefer having broad ranges of knowledge. Despite my love for Philadelphia I can’t wait to travel the world and see as much of it as I can.

    2. I agree with Collin, sometimes we become too comfortable with ourselves, our place, our lives and, rather than expanding, we contract. The danger is that we contract within a very egocentric mindset. Not only do we contract but we think our limitations are the right ones.

    • Your first bullet point is true. However, there will always be something new to see and new to take from an experience. There’s no way to cover the whole scale of the world. I haven’t done a lot of traveling, but I doubt that there isn’t something to learn about settling somewhere and building something.

      Secondly, comfort can be seen as peace and happiness. To pry ourselves from that to seek more better and vast knowledge seems turbulent and morbid. Maybe we could reach a point in where we are that there’s nothing more for us to take from a place, that’s when we leave. Not four months after we’ve learned enough to enjoy it.

  9. I’m really sorry about the break up. I’m not sure how you feel about it based on this post but I think that was intentional.

    I think that you are saying very logical things… why change if you’re happy?

    But the opposite end of that is why stay the same if you could be happier? Why not? Why not go, try, see, learn, explore?

    Who cares if you can’t get the full experience in a week? Isn’t any experience better than nothing?

    • By no means do I regret the time I spent with my girlfriend. I hope everyone understands that the metaphor of traveling was used to fully encompass what I feel about my break up. I just feel like we didn’t have to leave yet.

  10. I really liked this post Jonathan. Funny how our dreams & things change over time. They seem like the only thing you could ever want, and then as time passes, and as it flies of course, suddenly your dreams have changed. You’ve changed. The people in your life have changed.
    When it changes? Well, it can happen once it’s barren and it’s mean to, or you can change it before that happens. And I guess that goes for anything in life, be it dreams, relationships, love, location, etc.

    • I don’t know. At some point when I was little I realized that there was no point to changing things before they were over. I use to leave places before anyone else, not say bye to anyone, and just move on. I didn’t have places to go, I just left. I didn’t see the point, and I really don’t see the point in throwing away good mayo when it hasn’t expired yet.

  11. It’s funny that you posted this because I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I admire those people who can just get up and go. Who can leave everything behind and move somewhere new. I want to be able to do that, one day I may have to do that. Sometimes I think it is a matter of just doing. No thinking. Just doing. Once you do it it will be fine.

    Guts, I wish I had them.

  12. Hey Jonathan,

    It took awhile for me to figure out that you were referring to your relationship. Regardless, sometimes it’s better to end things when it’s good rather than drawing things out longer and spreading yourself too thin.

    Much like traveling, why wait until you’re dead bored of a place for you to pack your bags and leave? You won’t carry with you good memories of the place you left but more of the bitterness and regret that you hadn’t done it sooner. Leave while you’re having fun so that the happiness will forever be ingrained in your mind.

    Oh and that thing about ‘throwing out good mayo before it’s expired’? Don’t think of it as throwing it out but more of passing it on to someone else coz you’d rather buy cream cheese for your sandwiches instead.

    Hope you feel better soon dude.
    Tariq and Shaheera

  13. Hi! Nice to meet ya!

    I feel the same way about location independence. Sure, it is nice to be able to pick up and move whenever you please but does everyone want to? I am close to my family and I love the feeling of home. I like knowing every part of a place and I am obsessed with feeling comfortable. ( I know I am a self-development nightmare )

    And I don’t know if location independence is about bravery, it’s about choice more than anything else.

    I struggle with the same thing, how long will I stay? I know I want to see more and do more and live other places but how could I just pick up and leave everything.? I will get around to trying something new, but when?

    When is it right?

    – Shenee

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