[Thinking] Restless to be elsewhere?

This is perhaps only tangentially relevant to the idea of travelling but it was an interesting conversation I had with someone a while back.

Somehow, I have always assumed that given a choice, most people would wish to experience life in different places, to have the chance to really live somewhere else. In fact, to live “many-where else”. Wouldn’t you want to spend some time living in other places? And I don’t just mean it in the sense that we could travel for a holiday. I really thought that having the chance perhaps to work, live and immerse yourself for some time in another place would be an amazing experience. Doesn’t it make you restless to know that you have only ever lived in one tiny corner of the world and your footprints in your entire lifespan, if we were to mark them out, would only span a certain very small radius from where you were born? Especially when we are now so exposed to what happens in other places through the various media, how can you not be drawn to live vicariously through other people’s eyes, and how can that not leave you wanting more? One short flight, and a few hours, and it’s a new world out there. A world of both similarities and differences for you to explore.

I only came to Singapore when I was about 8. So, there was an extended time that I spent somewhere else. A wonderful memory, if a somewhat vague one from this side of time. I believe I see what is around me very differently because of that experience. You notice things that people don’t. You treasure things that people forget. You want things that people don’t realise are missing from their lives.  But those perspectives have seemed to dull and settle with the comfort of familiarity. And I cannot help wanting more at this stage. It’s like realising that you have a developing myopism, or a gradual blindness. Your world loses its clarity, perspective and vision. Instead, what you have left in your mind is this foggy idea of something wonderful that you’ve seen, a clarity of vision that you’ve experienced, but now is part of a distant memory that you cannot fully remember.

Apparently, she doesn’t share my restlessness and I don’t share her contentment. She said Singapore is a great place. I agree that it is. I just don’t see that it is the only place.  Not for you, not for many other people in this world. It’s not about which is greater. It is about the differences. I just think that for you to really appreciate a place and make a difference to it, you need to have seen many others. Otherwise, there is only so much variety and content you can make with a single ingredient.

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