I recently decided to broaden my definition of family – let me explain.
I’m definitely a homebody preferring to hang out in familiar places, like on the couch in front of my TV. I’m also an introvert, I need time alone in order to feel renewed. Put these two attributes together and you have a boy who never wants to meet new people or leave the house. As a wise young man, I looked at my personal preferences and decided I wanted to be a pilot, a profession that almost always involves working away from home with strangers. Go figure…
When I’m at home, with my people, all is well in the world. I feel connected and safe. Yet when I’m on the road, away from my family and home I feel disconnected and often insecure. This has the affect of making me turn inward, suspending interacting with others beyond a surface level until I’m back home. I’m sure you can quickly see how this is a major problem for a traveling professional.
There’s two problems with the way I think about “family” or those I’m willing to deeply connect with. First, If I can only connect with people at home, and I’m traveling a significant portion of my life, then I’ve committed myself to being lonely when I’m away from home. Second, the fact that I don’t connect with people on the road means I often come home desperate for connection. I’m always trying to get the most out of my time with those at home knowing that I’m about to take off into a void of connection. This desperation can put a lot of pressure on those I love.
Recently I thought about the possibility of opening up my family group to more people. I mean what if I could find significant connection with people outside of my normal group? What would that look like? How could I accomplish that change?
These are questions I don’t have answers to. I like to make things complicated, so my first reaction to these questions is to come up with some type of elaborate plan. However, I don’t think it’s that hard. This is probably more of a change in attitude and perspective. Maybe it’s as simple as looking at others as potential friends, rather than strangers. Maybe it’s saying “yes” to a dinner invitation when I would rather go watch TV in my hotel room.
What do you think? How have you found significant connections away from home?