Have you ever gotten the urge to just up and leave? I like to joke about my demonstrably Anasazi heritage – every day I think about just disappearing without a trace. However, when I first read John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run” I was mortally offended by the main character running away from his family based on what I would consider to be very mild dysfunction. We were going through some serious shit at the time. We were only months away from putting out oldest into a residential treatment facility for 14 months. A treatment which failed. But it gave us some breathing space and time and attention for our youngest son.
I think I’m going to Katmandu
That’s really, really where I’m going to
If I ever get out of here
That’s what I’m gonna do
I think that’s really where I’m going to
If I ever get out of here
I’m going to Katmandu
– Bob Seger, Katmandu
I would have liked to have left. Except my family needed me. And I wasn’t raised that way. It was just the opposite. I was raised to fight it out, not to give up. To get up and work each day. So that’s what I did.
It’s easy to consider running way. It’s easy enough to do even. But what does it solve? What new problems does it create?
And if the people capable of doing the work run away, who’s left? What’s left?
Running away is not the answer. Getting up each day. Going to work. Fighting for the things you believe in. Fighting for love. These are the answers.
This is what matters. Not comfort. Not easy.
In concert, Harry Chapin would relate this:
My grandfather was a painter. He died at age eighty-eight, he illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry, and he was looking at me and he said, “Harry, there’s two kinds of tired. There’s good tired and there’s bad tired.” He said, “Ironically enough, bad tired can be a day that you won. But you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams. And when it’s all over, there was very little you in there. And when you hit the hay at night, somehow you toss and turn; you don’t settle easy. It’s that good tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost, but you don’t even have to tell yourself because you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days and when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just and you say ‘take me away’”
I’m mostly there, but there’s a few things missing. I am trying to round out my life so that every part of it is my fight. That fight may be part of larger war (and I hope it is) but will still be mine. So, despite any urges, I will not be running away. Not only am I really not wired that way, I’m just not interested.