I was recently a party to a conversation on Twitter which included, “Barely a week goes by that I don’t think of faking my death and moving to some island…” I think that this idea is something that a lot of people – maybe even you – fantasize about when everyday life gets onerous – what if I could just chuck it all and disappear? I had a colleague many years ago who would always tell me, “I’m winning the lottery Saturday night. Then, I’m throwing the biggest party anybody’s ever seen. Then, you’re never seeing me again.”
During the conversation on Twitter, I recommended an old British comedy show called, “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.” The idea of faking one’s death and starting over was a central theme of the show. It’s not a big surprise to find out that Reggie was unsuccessful at several attempts at doing this, primarily because he always found ways to reintegrate his old life back into his new life. After a while, he found he was living his old life in new surroundings.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you are independently wealthy with no need to make more money to survive. Could you destroy your current life and truly start over? One of my favorite musicians, Neil Peart of Rush, did something like this, driven by grief and disorientation, as chronicled in his book Ghost Rider. During his eighteen-month journey, Peart believes that he was never recognized – in his words, “I was just a guy sitting in the corner, wearing a hat and reading a book.” Ultimately, Peart reconstructed his life to look quite like it did before his dual tragedies, so he did not follow through on his “disappearance.”
I think I could do it. Could you do it?