Skip to content

In Spaces

Posted on:October 11, 2021 at 08:00 PM

When I was young my father said that when you’re distressed, you should move. And you should keep moving until you feel better. Uncomfortable position? Shift in the chair. Minor annoyance? To the other side of the room. Family argument? Cool off in another room. Go stay with a friend. Move to another apartment. Find a new neighborhood, a new city, a new coast. Sick of society? Escape to another country. Tired of humanity? Unable to find any corner of the world where you fit in? Time to leave the mortal plane.

Growing up I had to learn to escape when angry. Sadness shrinks and happiness grows upon sharing, but anger only causes pain. To protect those around me from the stabs of my anger, I recuse myself to remoteness, waiting for the weight of the emotion to ebb, for a return to reason with a crumb of contrition. This escape spared them, but it also spared me from learning to disagree with dignity, contradict without losing my cool, and assert without being an asshole. Skills that I’m only now beginning to appreciate, imbibe, and exercise.

Despondence can also be treated by travel. Unmoving water stagnates, while running rivers stay fresh. The experience of a new space, or even just a different one, can transform the state of mind, and even its opinion of itself. A bird you’ve never seen before, a surprisingly fun toy from a gift shop, snippets of unknown music as you walk by, the sun setting on an unfamiliar horizon, dessert with an unusual twist: travel brings many delights. Delight is best when least expected, and the despondent expect very little.

Of all the wisdom my father has given me, and there is much of it, this is one of my most cherished nuggets. Most good things come to those who wait, and there is great value in patience, in biding your time and waiting for the right moment. But until then, when you find yourself stuck, remember that all you have to do is move.