Jennifer B. Davis
I read an article recently that was talking about the global impact of recycling and said that people talk about "throwing things away", but there is no place called "away." That got me thinking, where is away?

"Throw it away"
A common phrase basically describing a process by which unseen elves dispose of trash. No one thinks much about where it goes, but I think we are all aware that in fact "away" is not a place you can store trash. Eventually, it has to find a resting place in a landfill, a recycling center, or other location to be dealt with. The growing population centers, increases in packaged good consumption, and very present global economy make "away" closer to home. This leads to the ever dreaded "landfill in my backyard." So, it seems that the term "throw it away" is a myth.

"Get away from it all"
A phrase used to describe a tropical vacation or a roadtrip. In either case, getting away from one thing, just means going somewhere else. If the escape isn't physical (but rather found in the pages of good literature or a dip in a bubble bath), then the separation between "away" and "here" is just one of attitude. So, it would seem that "getting away from it all" is a myth.

"In a land far, far away..."
This fairy tale opener got top billing as Fiona's hometown in Shrek 2 (itself a piece of fiction). I guess this phrase which imparts a distance in both geography ("far, far away") and time ("once upon a time") is meant to imply that the story being told is one of adventure and romance. Somthing far removed from the mundane and routine lives that are lived in this time, in this place. So, "far, far away" is a mythical place.

As I have been thinking about this, I am amazed how frequently we use the word "away" when in fact it has no meaning at all. It is an "out of sight, out of mind" place where inconvient, dirty, or bothersome things can be sent without any thought to the ramifications. However, as we consider our world and our society, it is clear that if "away" wasn't already mythical, it would at least be going extinct.

So I suppose the admonition to "Go Away," could just as well be "Go live happily ever after...somewhere else!"
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