Observing One’s World from a Distance

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Yet again, it has been a while since I’ve written anything here. Not that I haven’t wanted to, or thought about it! Briefly, I’ll just say that I was dealing with (what I hope is) a mild bout of depression, which is something that pops up from time to time. I hate how it immobilizes me, both mentally and physically. It can sneak up too, as it did this time, slowly draining the color from my life until I suddenly realize that a pattern is forming.

This recent one surprised me, as my life has generally been really positive for the last few months. I know I wrote several months ago (or more?) about the sudden changes in work for my partner and I, and moving to a new apartment that had made so much of my daily life unrecognizable in such a short period of time. Perhaps it is the settling in, the wearing off of any newness, that allowed my mood to slide? More likely, it is chemical, and if the current steps I’ve taken to create a positive momentum through taking better care of my physical self don’t continue to work, I’ll be visiting my doctor. (Medication can provide a useful leg-up when necessary.) But it got me thinking about something I’ve been wanting to write about: how a change of place can offer such a drastic change of perspective.

Of course, depression can be looked at as a state of mind, and it certainly gives a different perspective. While it isn’t a place I want to be, it affects the senses and the way one looks at the outside world. But what I really have been thinking about is the clarity that can come after a trip to another place. I’ve done more traveling in the last six months than usual. There was a three week trip to Minnesota for training, a brief drive down to Arcata for an art opening, a long weekend in San Francisco/Santa Cruz with friends, a day trip to Portland to hear an author I admire, and last week I spent a couple of days with family in Yakima. Some of these were new places, some are places I have visited many times before. Each one offered a different vantage point from which to view my “regular” life back at home.

It was interesting that I returned home from each place with new energy, especially from my California visits. I was able to evaluate things in my life from outside my normal sphere of influence, able to get a big picture view of what my life looked like from afar. I think this what makes travel so useful, whether one is going ten or ten thousand miles away from home. Really, it is the same effect that a lot of companies seek when they send employees on corporate retreats to fuel new ideas from new perspectives. From my most recent visit to eastern Washington, I got to see and reconnect with family and also to really look critically at my life. Is my relationship with my partner on solid ground? Am I working towards the right goals? What kind of changes can I make to increase my personal authenticity?

Seeing where changes need to be made is one thing, taking action to change them is another. And I think that sometimes, seeing what needs to be changed can be disheartening, in that there may not be an easy or quick way to make the change. And yet… as that quote I saw written on a railing in Santa Cruz said, “The obstacle is the path.”

 

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