The Fantasy of Shirley ValentineAnja van Kralingen
A friend of mine recently went overseas for 10 days to visit some family. Soon after she returned, she confessed that she felt overwhelmed at home. She wanted to go back to Europe and leave her children with her husband.
What it was that made her feel this way?
I also feel sometimes like running away. Small kids, teenager and husband can take its toll. Especially around 5 pm (suicide hour) when everyone wants something from you and it is not all the same thing! 🙂
What is so appealing of running away and leaving it all behind
DOING A SHIRLEY VALENTINE
Let’s say that you run off and leave everyone behind, like in the movie Shirley Valentine. Ok, it worked for her, but why? Her marriage, her relationship with her children, her relationships with her friends were all so meaningless, that she had to find meaning somewhere else.
Personally, I think that is really sad and hectic, to take a life of 40 odd years and realise that there is no meaning in it. I would also run away I suppose. So Shirley Valentine only started living on that Greek island. Her whole life before that amounted to nothing that she valued. The weight of being someone else on a Greek Island was more than her whole life she left behind in England.
So, what is that about? She felt free in Greece, free from the trappings, monotony, and boredom of her life in England. Of course the problem is when she starts to create a life for herself in Greece, would she still be able to give it meaning?
She will be working, and find a partner and go shopping and get stuck in traffic and read books and watch TV (albeit in a different language :)) But still, a life just as she had in England. Friends with which to go out with and play Bingo with. Will she really find herself not talking to a wall again?
Can you really get away from yourself?
THE ACTUAL PREDICAMENT
You met someone and married and had children and created a career and a life. Is this not hugely meaningful? Do you not have meaning to those around you? Is it not incredibly selfish to leave those who need you and depend on you?
So what is the real problem?
- Perhaps the problem is not that there is no meaning in your life as it is, but rather that you are unable to see it.
- Perhaps, you should never have let this happen – allow your life to become meaningless in the first place.
- Perhaps you had to bash your head against the same wall for years to get to this point of wanting to change.
- Perhaps you can never be fulfilled – it is not your destiny.
- Perhaps being fulfilled and happy is not important to you, there are other things like duty that is more important.
So really what is the question? Is it better to start anew if you find your life meaningless, or is it better to take what you have and get meaning from that?
What is your take on it?
Freedom is different things to different people. I am not talking about freedom in the broad sense, but personal, in your life right now.
Do you feel completely bogged down by your responsibilities? Are you being suffocated by your partner, your children, your boss, your life? Is this the reason for your longing for freedom?
Let’s consider this for a moment.
More time to yourself, less responsibility, free to have sex with someone else, free to drink and drug it up, doing only what you want to do, have total autonomy. Please feel free to add whatever you think constitutes freedom to you here.
But just imagine having all that freedom. Would you really be free? No, you would probably not feel free at all, because you would find yourself living a life with no meaning yet again.
Freedom means living a life filled with meaning.
WHERE ARE YOU AT?
How can you separate who you are from the life you are currently living? Surely it is not a mistake that you are where you are.
You got to this point as a culmination of all the choices (conscious and unconscious) that you have made.
• If you are a fatalist and find yourself here because it just happened, I suggest to you that it is exactly where you should be.
• If you find yourself here because you planned to be here, I suggest to you as well that it is exactly where you should be.
It is not a coincidence that this is your life!
It reflects who you are and what is important to you, and if it doesn’t, reassess what you want and what is important to you. You CAN have it all – freedom and meaning right here.
The road to freedom and meaning is unique for each one of us, it is not captured in a formula and no-one can show you the way. It involves a process of turning inwards to find what is important to you and what you want. Only then can you pursue these goals of meaning and freedom.
Until next time.
If you enjoyed this blog, read Stephen’s blog “Becoming”.