Have you ever wanted to disappear from your life and reappear somewhere else as someone else? A few years ago, I spent many quiet nights puzzling over exactly how this could be done. Could I get away with doing this, myself? Eventually, I concluded that this could actually work.
Disappearing from Nebraska then starting over under a new name and as a different person in another state or another country, would present plenty of logistical problems and deceit. I’d have to build a new identity from scratch–not a small task. There would be the financial conundrum; how to transfer my banking, retirement accounts, and insurance to this new person. I’d have to dissolve all of my relationships by feigning death. I couldn’t risk having someone uncover my ruse accidentally or on purpose. Then there were legal considerations–faking one’s own death is a serious crime. Aside from the law, the ethical and moral violations are troubling.
There are many instances of people who have done exactly what I had been planning to do. Plenty of them were eventually discovered by law enforcement or private investigators. Some of them were unable to maintain their false identities and confessed. Untold others succeeded in their disappearing act and lived out their days under their second or third identities.
After analyzing all the various things I’d have to do, I concluded that all that work wouldn’t be worth it. My life isn’t messed up. I don’t have a valid reason to run away from society. Anyway, most people couldn’t care less about what I do with the rest of my life. Also, I’m too lazy to follow through on such an undercover mission.
The disappearing scenario is still appealing though. There are legal, more ethical ways of starting over. Scores of people rebuild their lives every day.
The human condition brings about dissatisfaction with life, other people, and oneself. It can get to the point of people lying to themselves and denying the hypocrisy and vanity of their lives. The psychology literature overflows with categories of dysfunctions and character types that largely stem from basic, personal dishonesty. Some of us go through self-sacrifice in order to keep up appearances.
We are familiar with such situations as mid-life crisis, dark night of the soul, and existential crisis. We question who we think we are and how we’ve lived our lives. Most of us reconcile ourselves and make adjustments to our lives then go on to enjoy reasonably satisfactory lives. Others face their existential crises and conclude that they must start over from scratch.
People evolve. Some of us go forward by accepting ourselves and improve upon our qualities. Others go in the opposite direction. Many of us are a blend of personal improvement and deterioration. In any case, we change. We are not who we used to be.
Last Autumn, my long ago friend, Grant stopped by the house for a few days to visit. A dozen years ago, Grant moved from his apartment here in Norfolk, Nebraska to set up housekeeping with his significant other in Cleveland, Ohio.
During that interim, he married his s.o. and settled into a new life and became active in his local creative dance community. A few years later, he lost his husband to an aggressive form of cancer. Not long afterwards, Grant was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. These major life events changed Grant in several ways. Although his outward appearance was visually recognizable, his inner self had undergone several transformations. Grant is a wiser person who is still learning how to cope with his difficult health situation.
My friend is an example of people who have had to rebuild their lives in drastic ways. I admire his courage and determination to make the best of his life. He is one out of countless people who explore ways to make life better for themselves and others. I wonder how many ways Grant will continue in the on-going process of rebuilding himself. He has come to the conclusion that living is the process of starting over and over and over again. That seems to be working out well for him.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes existentialist philosopher, writer, activist, Jean-Paul Sartre. “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”