I’m willing to bet that even the most down-to-earth person has at some point sat back and reveled in the proverbial daydream of starting a different life where no one know their name—basically the “I should just get up and leave!” mindset that tempts us in times of stress or boredom. However, I’m also willing to bet that the majority of time, they rationalize to themselves all the reasons that they can’t. Then they shake the thought from their minds and go on with their normal lives.

I think of them as “tethers:” all the aspects of your life which keep you firmly linked to your current world and snap you out of these lazy daydreams. Some of them are self-inflicted, like the choice to spend more than you have and end up a slave to loans and debt. Some are simply a part of 21st century life—try to fall into a dreamy reverie of travelling the world and sending cryptic postcards without wondering at least a little about your cell phone!

Along with these come the things that are technically beyond your control, but hold an irreplaceable spot in your heart. You might think of our devotions to our families as a lighter Stockholm Syndrome, although they might not take to that very kindly!

It’s hard to know just how many tethers we should have before that liberty to “run” into a new world disappears. After all, the right kinds of tethers can and should make your current world a beautiful place to be! Most people want at least a few special souls to keep by our sides, be they wives or husbands, best friends or siblings, mothers or children. Whether they’re adventurous or our patient voices of reason, they can even provide new wide-eyed outlooks on the places you will someday wander.

I’m not advocating running away from your problems or from any of your commitments. I simply believe in the innate curiosity of humans, the curiosity that makes us want to run toward something new. To this extent, we need to tether ourselves to our current worlds wisely, so that we always have room to grow.

8 Comments

    1. Well, there are the good ones– my family, friends, and boyfriend keep me pretty tethered to the life I have now, and it’s no coincidence that the good ones are all people, as opposed to things!

      College can fit both the categories of good and bad (depending on my mood), and then there are the boring ones that really snag us if we were to try and disappear with no preparation: keeping up with banking, insurance, doctors, the dreaded DMV, and so on.

      My goal is to travel once I graduate, so I need to prepare and maintain these carefully, or I’ll have a LOT to answer to when I come back!

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  1. I would say most tethers can be stretched by use of todays communication devices such as skype etc. I would also encourage young people to travel as much as they can while they can before they take on the major tethers of marriage kids and mortgages.

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  2. I know the tethers of life too well! They are what prevent us from just up and going on a road trip on a whim! I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, though!

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    1. Absolutely, and it’s comforting to know that if you all really wanted, you could still go on that road trip together (although, I’m sure, on less of a whim…)!

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  3. Really like Nicola’s reply. it is so easy to stay in touch these days – like it or not. As someone who has moved around a lot my entire life, I have never felt tethered. I sometimes am envious of those who have spent their lives in one place, establishing bonds and roots and connections. I do however remember having moments of “THATS IT I’M LEAVING” when my kids were small and my husband would be gone for long periods of time. I love how you refer to our family ties as borderline Stockholm Syndrome. I never thought of like that. Good one!

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    1. That sums it up nicely! In the 21st century, which prides itself on convenience, you can and you WILL stay connected, like it or not!

      And thank you– they’re our most “built in” relationships, the ones you would think we’d understand the best, and yet the relationships within a family are forever complicated and even challenging.

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