I personally feel that it’s only by leaving things behind that we can fully realize what they meant to us.
The day to day is so cluttered up with the important and the unimportant all mashed together. It’s easy to lose sight of which is which. The perspective of distance, in time or space or both, allows us to examine these things and properly categorize them, then appreciate them for what they were.
Despite my best efforts to live a grateful life, I know I’m guilty of taking things for granted when they’re right in front of me. But leaving gives me that deeper appreciation for where I’ve been, who I’ve been with, and what I’ve accomplished. I may not have fully understood or respected the wisdom of my mother, the humor of a good friend, the deep love of my father, the small gestures of an ex-boyfriend, if I hadn’t left. Moving away also helps clarify the relationships that were worth the investment of time, energy, and love, and the ones that were not. And sometimes the worthwhile ones come from the strangest of places.
Even the small things take on greater significance, given enough distance. The view of Mount Rainier from the 520 bridge, without being clouded by the annoyance of traffic. The sight of the sun shattered into a thousand diamonds on the ocean when it breaks into view on Crown Valley as you drive toward the beach, without the stress of being late for an appointment. The all-day, no-holds-barred snuggles of my dog, without the misery of a hangover or head cold.
This isn’t meant to invalidate those who have never felt the tug of wanderlust and been propelled to leave their homes in search of something… else. It is entirely possible to learn how to appreciate all these things by staying right where you are, using time as the mechanism through which perspective is gained. But for me, in my journey, distance has been a catalyst for this process, increasing the speed with which I learn, understand, and grow.