From Antipodes to Antwerp: What is a long way away?
Richard Croad discusses what it is to be 'too far' away from loved ones, not to be measured by distance alone but by emotional connection too.
I'm really not sure what this post is about, but I'm probably due for one of those totally irrational posts anyway.
I think it is probably a post for anyone who is separated by distance from those they love.
I am some 18,700 kilometres from my family in Belgium. It's a long way – almost as far as you can get.
I still see Chrissy, Olive and Edie everyday thanks to Skype. It's wonderful.
Still I am theoretically a ‘world away'.
So how far is too far?
When does ‘down the road' become a ‘world away' – and when does a world away really matter?
Does it have anything to do with distance at all?
Here's where I've come to in responding to these questions.
A world away is a function of:
- Time away.
- Nature of absence (work, illness, holiday, celebration, grievance).
- The state of the relationship (and this is not linear – a strong relationship should have the shortest apparent distance, while a weak or average relationship may create a feeling of either great distance or very little and for quite different reasons).
- The independence of the relationship.
- The familiarity of the situation (where you are, where your family is, how often it occurs).
- The age of your children.
- The weather.
- The (apparent) state of the world.
- Local events or tragedies (the Christchurch earthquake for example made me feel a long, long way from New Zealand).
- The time since you last saw other friends or family.
- That you see friends or family whilst you are away (which can make you feel closer or further away).
- And is weighed upon by the unknown and the unexpected (like worrying about your children when they are late coming home, when if you didn't know they were late you wouldn't worry).
Too far is when:
- Either party knows the other wouldn't drop everything in a moment to return if it was truly needed.
- The phone or the internet is not used.
- Everything comes before family.
- Either party doesn't know the other loves them.
It ‘really matters' when:
- You have gone ‘too far' – it has nothing to do with distance.
- You don't weigh all the factors above before making a decision to travel.
And so, my mantra for travelling:
"I miss you when I'm here, much like I miss you when I'm there, the difference is the time, the touch, the knowing, the immediacy, and the intimacy."
A long way away, reminds us of what we miss and what we should celebrate and take comfort in, whenever we are together and whenever we are apart.
Richard Croad started his blog From Antipodes to Antwerp after relocating to Belgium from New Zealand. His blog was an avenue to reflect on life as an expat, as well as to record a journal for his two young daughters. As a ‘later in life’ 50-something father, Richard believes leaving a trail of his own struggles and celebrations in a foreign culture is a valuable gift for his children, and is happy to share the same musings with others in this global e-community.
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