There is probably none of us who, at one time or another, haven’t wanted to run away from it all. We are all tempted by the “runaway syndrome”. We want to run and it doesn’t matter where. Homemakers wish they could shift their responsibilities; parents wonder if rearing children is worth the effort; lawyers wish they were airplane pilots and doctors wish they were bankers. Students keep thinking about a different school or perhaps no school at all. It’s a rare person who hasn’t been tempted now and then to run away rather than stay. But the more we consider the human experience, the more we understand that the business of living is not running away but finding a meaningful existence where we are. It’s a real mistake to imagine that happiness is always down the road or just over the next hill. The fact is that if we can’t find happiness where we are, we likely will never find it even if we roam the farthest reaches of the world. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for new frontiers. We owe it to ourselves to find the best possible world. But most of us now have the only world we will ever have. The better part of wisdom is to settle down and make the best of it. For one thing, life often imposes limits on us. We live in this time, not some other age. We are Americans not Germans. We are male or female not the other sex. We are short or tall, slender or more full bodied. We are good at math or we’re not. We can’t run away from those realities and will find satisfaction only by embracing them and living them out as fully as we can. Secondly, running away doesn’t work because we always carry who we are with us. Our strengths and weaknesses, our abilities in one area and lack of talent in another are part of us, no matter where we go. The prodigal son thought he would be happier if he left home. He found out his father’s house was the best place to be. Living as fully as we can where we are usually brings us the greatest happiness and satisfaction we can find.
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