I got to spend the day with my five nieces and nephews. We carved pumpkins and ate corn dogs and French fries; it was a pretty good day. We don’t get to see my oldest niece and nephew as often as we’d like, so it seems like those days with them get pretty full and chaotic, trying to cram months worth of visits into about eight hours.
They don’t live that far away, only about ten miles from my brother’s house, but time and custody and various things in life keep them from seeing their father and the rest of our side of the family nearly as often as any of us would like. They are happy kids and well cared for by all involved, but it’s amazing how vast a distance that ten miles is when people do not cooperate.
My best friend lives about a thousand miles away and yet, because we have made it that way, we are as close as ever despite the miles. I would love to see her face, in person. But we are in nearly constant contact, so the miles are a mere technicality.
As I consider the various paths my life could take in the future, I contemplate moving. I’ve never lived more than an hour’s drive from my mother and never more than a two hours drive from the rest of the family. It would be easy, mentally and emotionally, to move to a larger town in this area, but could I pack up and move to Los Angeles or England or wherever opportunity leads? I think that I could, but it would mean sacrificing the family time that I’ve always known. When I had the chance to return for a visit, would it be the same chaotic feeling of cramming months worth of visits into a short time?
Before you think that I’m even considering not following my dreams, here’s my philosophy: I dream big: for personal goals, career goals, and future love. I have come so alive in the past couple of years, more alive than I’ve ever been before, and I’m not going to give up on that. Following the path of my life, wherever it may take me, will only bring me more to life. I would rather have shorter times in physical proximity with those I love while in that state of being fully alive and completely at home in my own existence, than to stay close but return to the living death that I knew before. It will mean sacrifices in many different areas, some I’m sure that I’ve yet to even think of. But it would also mean so many more gains, so many more authentic moments when we are together, and so much more joy in my personal fulfillment and whatever contributions I can make to the world.
We live in a world of video calls and instant messaging, so miles and time zones are not the enemy that they were even several years ago. We do not have to wait days, weeks, or months for a letter to arrive. We don’t have to budget a long distance calling plan. We don’t have to settle for disconnecting. Physical separation no longer means a deteriorating relationship. Hugs and days out together on a weekly basis cannot be replicated with technology, but they can also be missing when someone is just ten miles down the road.
I don’t know where things will lead me. They may never progress beyond my current situation. But I know this, the world is however big or little you make it. As Kathy Mattea sings often from my mp3 player, “Love travels the miles upon the wings of angels. Love finds you, I swear it’s true, I can love you from here…”