Why You Should Run Away
Editor’s Pick. Written by Paul Rosenberg.
One of the more instructive experiences of my life occurred when was when I was a teenager, barely sixteen years old.
My dad, whom I had previously considered to be incredibly over-protective, put me on a cross-country bus and sent me, alone, to visit my grandmother, some two thousand miles away.
For two straight days I was on my own, surrounded by people I had never met, in places I’d never been, and thrown into situations that I could never have expected. The experience did something to me: I learned about a strange world and how to get along in it, alone, with no one to run to.
The benefits I felt from this trip didn’t have to do with traveling. This wasn’t about getting from point A to point B – this was about wandering through the unknown. And that was an idea that rather bothered me.
During my youth, there was a common idea that moving around was a bad thing. You were supposed to stay in your place unless you had a good reason to do otherwise. People who moved around were considered suspicious and even dangerous. The benefit that I felt from wandering clashed with what I had been taught.
When I returned home from this journey, I returned to the regular American distractions of sports, school, and all the other shiny objects that grab at young people’s minds. But I never forgot the strange feeling that stuck with me from that journey.
Sometime later, I came across a passage in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona:
I rather would entreat you to see the wonders of the world abroad, than,
living dully, sluggardized at home, wear out your youth in shapeless idleness.
That wasn’t precisely what I had felt on my adventure, but it was close. It would be some years before I would travel seriously, but I decided right then and there that I would make it my life’s goal to see the world.
That experience, which I’ve come to call The Strangest Secret, is not unlike Earl Nightingale’s message of the same name. Both concepts lead to a rich and fulfilling life.