Thursday, September 10, 2009

Staying is Harder or TINSWIRWIMLS

When things start to get hard, I usually approach my husband with words like, "Let's move" and "let's move." He usually smiles, nods, understands, agrees; we look for homes in San Jose or Boston, I reminisce about the cottage I had found in Surrey (England).
It's not too hard to imagine leaving, starting over, finding a new adventure. The idea excites me --new people, new places, new experiences...but for some, it frightens them. Moving across the country (world?) is akin to having an arm removed. Why leave family and familiarity? Why leave comfort and religious understanding? It is too hard; to risky. There is too much to lose.

But to me? Staying is harder.

Leaving is easier because there is no longer a need to face the immediate challenges. Leaving creates an excuse to sever relationships, and ignore glaring problems, hoping they won't reappear in the "promised land." But they always do. We can't escape from "problems" because that is what we face in life, no matter where we live or what we do. Of course, choosing to live in a certain place could definitely make the problems easier to face --or change them altogether --but it won't erase them completely.

On another note, I have this problem. This problem is called The I'm-not-sure-what-I-really-want-in-my-life Syndrome. Let's call it TINSWIRWIMLS for short (for long?). Here's the symptoms of this disease:

I want to be a rancher. I want to be a farmer. I want to ride horses and plant gardens and brand cattle and herd sheep and mend fences and cook potatoes and rise with the sun to haul some hay. I will work hard with my family at my side, and we will reap the benefits of that hard work through satisfaction, rain, and mountain vacations.
I want to live in a mansion --no, an estate! In England. I want to be wealthy and have gardeners and maids and spend my days walking through my forests and gardens and write my novels. The fame I'll have will come from my not-so-quirky desire to be a recluse, and I will spend romantic evenings by the fire, and beautiful days in the local village buying fresh produce and laughing with shopkeepers. My novels will be read by Queens and teens, housewives and old men. Writer's block will be cured daily by walking through those gardens, and I will write at least 8 perfect novels, not quite unlike Jane Austen.
I want to live in the City. San Francisco, New York City, Boston, London --doesn't matter. I want to have the latest fashions, and spend time with famous people; royalty, actors, philanthropists. I want to eat the best food and dance to the best music. I want art museums, operas, concerts, and trains. I'll wear cocktail dresses, long coats, and jewelry. People will respect and know me because of my music; I will be a concert pianist, and I will be good at it, too. Dang good. My ability at the piano will inspire millions and millions...
I want to be Donna Reed. I want to feel excitement at preparing a beautiful meal for my family. I want to be the best mom: cook, sew, read, clean, prepare, shop. I want to be that "cool mom" who knows all of her children's friends and hosts parties and plans neighborhood picnics while running the PTA. I want to raise my children in the same house forever --marriage to death, the same house. The sense of community will be the reward, and I will be known as a stalwart neighborhood figure --even when I run for city council.
I want to travel the world. The children will be home-schooled as we visit far-off lands. We will all learn about biology in the Galapagos and study insects in India. We'll learn about tribal law in Africa and hike mountains in Peru. Snorkeling in Australia will be followed by architecture study in Germany. We'll spend months in the Baltic, years in Italy, weeks in Thailand, and at least a month in Bali. We'll discover species in Madagascar, and explore the Amazon in Brazil. I will write about our adventures, we'll make amazing friends for life, and we will have gained a perspective that can never die. And then we'd do it all over again.
I want to go back to college. I want to get a marketing/advertising degree and spend 20 years as the CEO of my own advertising agency. Or maybe I will get my Master's in MFT (marriage and family therapy) and practice therapy. I will be a famous therapist and wind up on Oprah. Or maybe I'll just use my degree to open a small practice in a city in Canada. I will help people change their lives; I will help save marriages and families. I will feel such peace when I stop a suicide or encourage a couple to work it out.
I want to take a nap.

My awesome buddy Michelle (whom I miss most dreadfully, and still don't get to talk to nearly enough) and I talked about this at length: we both want to be everything and go everywhere and do everything. The conflict of our TINSWIRWIMLS is so intense, that it amplifies all of our other problems. Depression is worse. Whining is worse. Longing and pining and yearning is worse...

These are the problems with TINSWERWIMLS. The longing, pining, yearning, whining, depressing state of mind --it's quite consuming at times. The good part is if I were to follow these impulses and move each time and try out each new thing, it might stop. It could!
But I doubt it.

So, are you all crazy with TINSWERWIMLS, too? Or am I just the insane one? And if you could move and live any place in the world, where would you live and why? Would it change if your circumstances were different?


Stephanie said...

Right now, I just want a third bedroom so my toddler and baby NEVER wake each other up in the middle of the night.

Sometimes, I want to move to SE Idaho, by all the family. But then I remember Fashion Place Mall 10 min away, South Town or Jordan Landing 15 minutes away, 5 grocery stores within 5 minutes, the Bees, the Utes (sorry Cheryl), SL International 15 minutes away,and decide the fam just needs to move here. :)

Desi said...

I had no idea my affliction had a name! TINSWERWIMLS...I will have to remember that.

I would move all over the world and live in a different county or state for a couple of years each. That's enough time to learn about the culture and get a good understanding of something different. But I would only do it if I had enough money so that I could travel back to see loved ones often. That's the problem I'm facing now. We moved away, but don't have the funds to visit and we have the only grandchildren. I feel guilty that my girls aren't getting the opportunity to build those relationships with their grandparents that I wish they had...if only I played the lottery, and won ;-). I'd be on in the first moving truck out of here :-)

evitafjord said...

I definitely feel the pull of moving. Besides my general love of moving/change on a regular basis, we live thousands of miles from my family (5 miles from his) and that's a struggle I've been working on for 12 years. I hate it here, but we've been stuck because of money/jobs/not wanting to abandon his family (but wait, what about mine?). Most of the time, I'm okay with it - the times when I don't think about and just get caught up in the day-to-day, but inside there is always the yearning just waiting to surface again. The melancholy of living so far from people and places I love comes back, but the logistics of moving take so long that I have plenty of time to beat the sadness back and decide that I don't deserve to be happy anyway (okay, that's the dramatic, PMS, depressed person talking) and I give up and drop the idea again for a while. Moving is on our 3-year plan again and as my degree gets closer to done, it feels more and more doable, but in the place of logistic problems are coming other problems like not wanting to uproot 5 kids from what they've known all of their lives just for Mom's happiness (crap, again with the dramatics).

Wow, my therapy session just threw up in your comments. Sorry.

evitafjord said...

I should have waited to comment and just dittoed Desi.

Amanda D said...

I'm a total home-body. If I could move anywhere, it would be back to Springville, UT. I quite honestly loved it there and I don't love it here. I love things about Oregon but the other things that I love about Utah outweigh those.

I have no desire to live in a big city. Or be famous. I would like to try my hand at ranching though.

Cristy said...

I'm not sure what's worse sometimes: the affliction you speak of, or total apathy about life in general. I feel sometimes like I've just "given in." I'm reading Anne of Green Gables again and thinking "Where did Cristy go?!"

Emily & Co. said...

I'm with you being a rancher, but I need people too much...I'm w/you on Donna Reed, but that's not going to happen w/my husband's job...I'm all about traveling (my plan are humanitarian family vacations when the kids get a little older)...I am truly hoping for a small farm w/a cow and some chickens, but I might be able to live that dream through friend's who have lots of land. I had an epiphany this summer that Southern California is home, now, and I need to feel settled here, so now I'm redecorating my home so it "works" for us! My TINSWIRWIMLS has more do do with wanting to be passionate and skilled at something, but I am too much of a "jack of all trades" to ever settle on one thing. It has it's perks, too, but I hate not being great at anything (I can kind of play the piano, kind of bake, kind of garden, kind of sing, kind of sew, kind of scrapbook, I am hit and miss about reading good get the picture!)

Anonymous said...

What's it called when you don't want to do anything?

LadyLenore said...

Are you kidding? i have no idea what i want in my life! 'course i've got the youth card in my hand still, but gah! why did i ever have to grow up so much and get forced into so many decisions? - which i made under very bizarre circumstances, i might add. GUH. tho i might be making headway on the "what's my major/career" path thing stupid thing. aye.

Jill said...

I love this post, Cheryl! Thank you. I've been feeling this way for a little bit. We've done Texas and now I'm ready for something new....maybe the east coast, you know Maryland or so. I was just wishing I could go apple picking. If my circumstances were different, I would hire someone to clean for me. I like where I am and I love what I do all day, but I'd be happy to let someone else mop the floors.

Alison Wonderland said...

Amen, ditto, and me too.

Annette Lyon said...

I think I have a different syndrome, but one that makes depression just as hard to deal with. Pain in the butt, it is, too. I should come with a catchy abbreviation for it like you did.

sunrabbit said...

I have this same problem, but always just chalked it up to being an idealist perfectionist. I want to accomplish everything and I want to accomplish it perfectly. So depressing that I can't. But I like TINSWIRWIMLS, which I pronounce like "Tins-were-wimmels." And I am one of those people who is afraid of moving away, when I really think of the details of it. The idea is always nice, the escape, the hope that suddenly everything will be different and better. Then reality hits. :)

Michelle Walker said...

CHERYL!!! I've been SO out of the blogosphere loop! Nice to see you have shared your (our) syndrome with the world! I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and I feel like especially as mothers, as we grow older, that because of the choice we make to stay home, that some things are obviously sacrificed along the way. Like, now I am too old to be in the winter Olympics, and now I can't ever be a pop star. :) It's the same with where we choose to live and raise our families. Something's got to give. You can't be rooted in a community and live all over the world. So, I think like a lot of things in life, we grieve a little when we realize that where we are going to raise our kids one day has passed--we ARE raising our kids--and THIS is how/where we are doing it. So, I've had to let go of planting roots for now. We may be out of the country next year--our path is the "adventurous" one I guess. Funny thing is, as badly as I wanted all the museums and culture and adventure, now all I want is Cheryl and Liz and a muffin top . . . :)*sigh*

Janelle said...

I loved this post.

I thought I was a person who wanted change. But now, I want to settle down and live a peaceful uneventful life.

More of the same for me, if you please.