Searching for Greener Grass
A friend posed me the question recently of whether her desire to move was a form of “grass is always greener” syndrome. That being a desire to move away from problems to an apparently better place, just to find the same problems there. The worry being it might be a waste to move.
I searched after the greener grass, many times. I tended to move every time I saw some brown patches in my life.. err lawn. I actually think there is a benefit to this. If you move around looking for greener grass, if nothing else you become a better judge of grass.
One of the prime things that I say about the move was that I learned very clearly which of the myriad problems that I saw in my life were founded in the situation and which came from within. The second big thing that I have is perspective. I can look back and make better decisions about which things I am willing to accept and which I want to change.
“An optimist believes we live in the best of all positive worlds, a pessimist fears that this is true.”
I think we get frightened by the story of the green grass. People make it out to be illusion and myth. “Don’t leave what you have just looking for something better, because it isn’t out there and you will lose what you have.” The really insidious part of these stories is that often they are based in wisdom. Why is that insidious? A lot of people tell these stories from their own experiences and are well meaning, attempting to warn from never enjoying what is good and always searching for what is better. But often the similar sounding story is told from fear and worry that although perhaps a bad situation, that there are many other worse. To act out of fear is almost always the wrong choice.
I think there is a real perspective and benefit for some comparison shopping in life. It provides knowledge so that decisions are not made from fear. There is a limit to this of course. I have learned that always running isn’t really an answer, but having a basis of comparison gives real leverage to decisions. Knowing that there are other options and I would rather the choice I have made feels somewhat satisfying. The balance of this is knowing when to stop looking. When the looking becomes not seeking of knowledge, but slips into fear of missing the “best” choice, again the decisions are based on fear.
I see this balance in my life in the oddest ways sometimes. As posted, I have an issue with indecision. So my balance is to know when to stop testing alternatives and just make a choice. I noticed this at lunch the other day.
There is a fairly small set of streets near the university that I go eat lunch in. They are quiet and cheap and decent food. I know these streets pretty well and which restaurants serve what food. Yet often I find myself walking around and around looking for something to eat. I am so starving that I can’t decide. I look at one and it doesn’t appeal only to search for the next choice. In the end I often run out of time and just end up with a quick sausage or whatever from a bakery. So I spend my lunchtime looking for the greenest grass and end up with a somewhat scraggly weed.
The point of this is not that I should also just pick the first thing that I see, choice is still a good thing, but that for me too much choice can overwhelm. This is one of those things I learned is part of me and not an issue coming from the choice prone US culture.
What does this have to do with Travel?
It is often said that travel opens horizons and broadens perspective. I see this as taking tours of different pastures. By seeing different ways of life (different choices) I get a chance to make some decisions about myself. Do I like warmer places or cooler climes, how much rain can I deal with. It also can teach the restraint part as well. At some point walking from one end of Zagreb to the other, just pick a hotel, it’s not worth that much pain to find the perfect place.
If life is a set of doors and passageways that we move through, then there is good sense in checking a few doors before you pick a corridor you like. Being afraid of opening is one end of the balance and being afraid to not open every door is the other end. Try a few, make a choice and stick with it for a bit; then perhaps check another few doors or open a window for some fresh air.
Act not out of fear of the unknown, but also not to let things go so far as to ignore what is actually worth enjoying.
June 4, 2012 @ 9:59 am
I really enjoyed this post Andrew, especially the line ‘If you move around looking for greener grass, if nothing else you become a better judge of grass’. I also like your point about figuring out whether problems come from the situation or from within.
June 7, 2012 @ 11:08 am
Thanks. I wrote this a long time ago. It is nice to see that it is still helpful. Even though I have decided to settle now more than I did then.
August 15, 2010 @ 2:18 pm
Thanks for the comment and compliment.
August 14, 2010 @ 4:37 pm
Excellent post that reflects some of the ‘what-ifs’ and fretfulness of those of us with gypsy-feet. I’ve lived on several continents and have derived benefit from every experience (even the ones that seemed grim at the time!) and hope to keep travelling until I am old and gray. Well done, Andrew.
August 13, 2010 @ 6:56 pm
Research to a point, then jump. In most things there is only so much knowledge that is useful before you really need to just “do” rather than “learn”. Thanks for the compliment on my writing, that is always nice to hear.
August 13, 2010 @ 6:54 pm
August 10, 2010 @ 6:32 am
Wow, good post Andrew. I really like the way you write. Like you, I can err on the side of caution making sure I plan and research everything. There is good in that but there is also some bit of fear that drives that process.
I am not sure how I want to work this out in my own life. I definitely understand your point but need to research this and ponder on this some more before making any decisions. 🙂
August 9, 2010 @ 3:19 am
Really, really thoughtful post!
August 7, 2010 @ 8:52 pm
I love this post Andrew and relate to it so well. I am someone who is always moving to greener pastures. And my move is never based from fear but from the desire to have more and learn more. I think once you travel and take that brave step to see what lies in other fields you understand that in moving to different pastures you are enriching your life so much more. It's than easier to move again as you know what is in store. All the comments we receive from friends and family about “Why we do we want to move from our hometown as you have everything you need right here?” Well my answer is how do you know that if you have never left.
I've lived in places and decided that the weather was too wet or cold for me, or I could earn more money if I moved somewhere else. I think that is being proactive in your life and choosing to not accept anything other than what you want. I think often those who remain in the same pasture, through fear, become complacent, which can be a serious obstacle to growth.
August 5, 2010 @ 8:11 am
Thanks for the comment, even in comment form I like your writing voice. Where is that quote of yours from? I remember it oddly enough from playing Diablo. But yeah that perspective of seeing which problems were actually mine was a great benefit of the move. Probably the prime mental one.
August 4, 2010 @ 2:10 am
This was a great post, combining the reality of self-illusions and the promise of a better future. It's definitely important to know that “wherever you go, there you are.” At the same time, broadening horizons is equally important. Sometimes its those experiences that help us make our lawns greener, where ever we happen to be mowing. Awesome post!