“Geographic Cure”

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“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” (Ernest Hemingway)

In 12 step meetings people are introduced to the concept of the geographic cure, an idea that all one’s problems can be solved by moving to a new location. It’s a tempting idea, one that many people believe. In Connecticut, at the moment, there seems to be an underlying malaise that has led one third of those interviewed saying they will leave the state in the next five years.

Many good reasons exist for relocating. Better jobs might be available somewhere else. Perhaps family members want to live closer to one another. Some people prefer a different climate, either hotter or colder than the one they currently inhabit. People may want to move into a retirement community and there isn’t a good one nearby.

But a general grumpiness about one’s location can’t be solved by moving to another, not if the problem is internal, not external. As the old bumper sticker used to say “Wherever you go, there you are.” Right now North Carolina seems to be luring many Connecticut residents. The taxes are lower there. The weather is warmer. But as any place grows rapidly, so do the needs to build more roads, more schools, more services. Eventually either taxes will go up there or services will stagnate. So what seems ideal might lose its shine after a while. Portland, Oregon, once my home town, has now been “loved to death” by the influx of new residents looking for a place that no longer exists. Housing prices have soared, traffic is impossible, and quiet neighborhoods are being disrupted by tear downs of single family houses replaced with two or more houses.

A dissatisfied Connecticut resident might soon find himself a dissatisfied North Carolina resident. I hope not. I hope he isn’t looking for a geographic cure.

21 thoughts on ““Geographic Cure”

  1. I have found that moving location does not move problems, ideas, or other concerns. It seems like a holiday at first, but if you are sensible, you soon realise that is it just the same ‘life’, but in a different place. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I agree that the novelty of any new place soon wears off. Still I can understand moving from a place where weather patterns are extreme and landscapes are dull to something more to your liking – say a move from North Dakota to Seattle, which my mother-in-law did so many years ago. Of course that was driven by the war effort at the time and jobs at Boeing.

  3. When a sudden change of circumstances makes life miserable where you are, moving may be the only solution. Twenty years ago, new neighbors moved in next door to me who were absolutely impossible to get along with and made my life miserable (I won’t go into details). Realizing that there was no hope of being able to live in anything resembling harmony with them, my family and I moved to the opposite side of town 45 minutes away, and it turned out to be the best decision we ever made.

    So, while I’m not saying it was necessary to move to another state or part of the country, sometimes it is necessary to move far enough away from the cause of the problem to gain the peace of mind that only enough distance provides.

    so, while I’m not saying that

  4. I go to a Celebrate Recovery programme, which is a Christian based version of 12 Steps. It’s not got anything about physically moving, but mentally moving. I think that’s a far better trip, to change your mindset to be positive while acknowledging bad habits.

    1. We actually ran a Celebrate Recovery program at our old church. Sadly that congregation was so image conscious that very few people showed up. I am delighted to hear that you have such a program where you are. It is a great place to learn ways to cope with all sorts of people.

  5. I moved to Ireland from Scotland twenty years ago this month. I am forever thankful. However, I do agree with you on the inner work still needing to be healed. That is an ongoing journey for us all.

  6. An interesting post, Elizabeth. Especially for someone who is expecting to make an international relocation within the next three years. There are no jobs and there is no stability in South Africa for my children. They will leave as most of the educated youth is doing. It is sad as it drains the limited skills but expected when the future looks brighter elsewhere.

    1. That move makes complete sense. I surely don’t think all moves are wrong. We made a dramatic one ourselves. Just I see people who are basically unhappy thinking they will be happier in another state.

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