Ask the Aliens: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
[Ask the Aliens is a monthly feature on Misreader that attempts to contact aliens to answer life advice questions here on Earth. Read the open call here or check out the previous letters here. If you have a question send it to misreaderblog at gmail dot com with "Ask the Aliens" in the subject line.]
Hi, aliens I hope you are doing well. Me, not so much. I have recently made a decision that now that I have made it I'm regretting very much. I don't want to go into details, mostly because you might think it's funny that I'm asking you, and also because it's pretty embarrassing to admit, even in an anonymous forum like this. Basically, it was a question about deciding to leave something. And I did that: I decided to leave. I haven't left yet, but I decided that I am sure I am going to do it.
There's a ton of reasons for me to want to stay, but there are a few more reasons for me to want to leave, and for me that was the deciding factor: The leaving reasons outnumbered the staying reasons. What I didn't take into account when I made my decision was the fallout of leaving. Nothing seems as big or scary as the act of having to leave right now. I don't think I took into account all of the minutiae that leaving would entail (and again I have to limit how I describe these difficulties because I don't want to say what I'm leaving here but trust me, it's complicated).
Isn't it easier if I don't go ahead with this change? Can't I just ignore that after long deliberation I decided on this move?Or do I have to go through with it, now that I officially made it official that I want to get going?
One Foot Out and In the Door
Dear One Foot,
As usual, the aliens did not respond to your letter, but that doesn't mean that they can't offer some insight into your life problem, or any life problem now that I think about it. All it takes is some hypothesizing.
It's easy to imagine that an alien intelligence capable of traveling through the cosmos at near light speeds or better will find your question kind of irrelevant. Just like we don't care about how a fly decides which direction it will fly around our kitchens, a highly advanced alien intelligence would have no interest in your staying where you are, or going to where you are not, especially if it turns out to be something like moving out of your current apartment because you don't get along with your roommates (tell me if I'm getting warm here). But if the aliens are scientists, especially behavioral scientists, they would be interested in knowing how humans react to situations like these.
It's possible that individual aliens taking part in an interstellar journey might be like you and have anxiety about leaving home. It would really depend on how their form of space travel works. If the rules of physics as we know them hold true, they probably are not able to return to their homeworld in anything like recognizable shape. Thousands of years will have passed and yet the aliens who were out in space traveling at amazing speeds will not have aged at all. What kind of decision-making would it take to still get on that spacecraft? What kind of coping mechanisms might this culture have in place for those people? The answers to these questions are just guesses, but they are probably very similar to advice that someone might tell you about making your big move: Let go, don't look back, and make sure to take what you need with you.
As someone who lives outside of my birth country (I'm currently in Tel Aviv but I come from New York) I think about moving away all of the time. Sometimes, it's just the easiest response to the momentary insanity that I'm experiencing. Terrorist attack? Maybe it's time to move. Talk about building a third Temple in Jerusalem? Lemme check these plane ticket prices. Can't figure out how the hell I'm supposed to fit into this place? Might as well head back to Queens.
So far though, I still haven't gone anywhere, no matter how alien it may feel to stay at times. It's another old physics stand-by: Objects in motion will remain that way, unless they're acted on. Maybe that's why you haven't pressed on with your decision and take off yet (are you thinking about leaving your job? Is that it?). You still need that something to push you out of the door.
Is there an alien precedent for having to leave right away without having much choice? Let's consult the literature...
Top image "Should I stay or should I go" by Arol Lightfoot used and altered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.