Friday, February 1, 2008

Can I Ever Be Happy Again?

So here's my quandary. Who is happier, the person who grows up in a small town and has never traveled outside that town, read or watched TV or listened to radio news about events outside his town? Or is it the person who has been to many places and has loved at least two of them?

The person who never leaves the small town may never know the pleasures and joy of meeting people unlike himself, may never know about cultures outside his own, may never know the diversity of the world in which we live. But ignorance is bliss, right? He knows the people in his town and assuming it's a nice place to live, the people are like an extension of his own family. He may take great pleasure in the familiarity of his surroundings, the surety of being recognized and appreciated, maybe winning the heart of a person he has known all his life. There's a lot to be said for this type of existence.

People who travel much, and I count myself in this group, find themselves constantly discovering new things, meeting new people, exposing themselves to experiences they may never have had in their birth town. Those who favor familiarity, who seek out the closest McDonalds when traveling in Italy, do not allow themselves these pleasures. However, those who travel much usually do it because they enjoy it. They happily sample the local foods, no matter how unfamiliar they may be, they try to learn a few words of the local language to make it all the easier to make friends, they avoid other tourists, especially those from their country of birth.

Those who like going on jaunts may find, however, that they can never be truly happy again. When I am in the United States, where I am most of the time, I think about Italy and I miss it, then when I'm over in Italy, I miss the United States. I also miss France and Germany, Scotland and India, and other places I've seen. Of course, I also miss San Francisco and LA, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

So does that mean I'm not happy and can never be happy again? Maybe I can solve the problem by focusing on the here and now and learn to appreciate where I am now and what I see today. Yes, I can miss another place I've seen and loved, but if I'm always thinking of the other location rather than where I am now, then I'll never be happy. If I focus on the beauty around me, wherever I happen to be, perhaps I'll always be happy!