In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Skate away

When I was young, perhaps five years old, I decided that I was going to run away. I can’t remember what prompted this decision, but surely it involved my parents. Not being aware of the preparation required, I just went ahead and left. I walked out the door like I did on any other day. This time however, instead of just going out to play, I wasn’t going to stop at my friend’s house, two doors down. No, I was leaving.

I reached the sidewalk in front of the house and decided to go left. Then, four doors down, I reached Jepson Street. Which way should I go? Left was the way to the park, right was downtown, and goodness knows what was straight. Still, I was heading off into the unknown and it was exhilarating!

But wait a second, I thought to myself. What would I do when lunch arrived? I had no money. And where would I sleep when it got dark? This was probably the first time I bumped into consequences without having them pointed out to me. I didn’t go left. I didn’t go right. I didn’t go straight. I went back. I was upset with my parents, but I still had it pretty good. It was certainly better than giving it all up and striking out on my own… at the ripe age of five. Damn right I went back!

I’ve never been one to run away from things. Yes, I have ignored things until they became large enough to come back and bite me, but I never ran. The ignoring is more of a delaying tactic than anything, but I’m not going to argue about it. So imagine my surprise this morning when my iMac woke me with Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s River and I found that it really resonated in me.

The chorus goes like this:

I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

If that’s not running, I don’t know what is. You can imagine my surprise at how I felt.

I’m really not a big Joni Mitchell fan, but the song’s been in my head all morning… at least until I recruited The Chemical Brothers to evict Joni. I’ve still been thinking about why the chorus sounds so right, however.

I don’t want to run. Rather, I’d like a respite. A lot has changed in the last six months and to my great surprise, a lot of it hasn’t yet settled. I’ve described it as getting a new skin, and still not being used to how it fits. At a very fundamental level, I’ve left where I used to be and am no longer sure where I belong. Things are very much in flux.

The problem is that being in flux can be exhausting! I’ve always worked toward security but I’ve thrown it to the wind. I’ll get it back, but in the meanwhile I’m searching for equilibrium in many areas of my life. There is no respite available to me. One can’t take a break from one’s self. One can’t run from one’s self.

Please don’t get the idea that I’m a walking disaster. I’m not. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ve relied heavily on my loved ones, both friends and family, and whether they know it or not, they’re the only reason I’ve made it this far. I’m not running away. I’m running toward something better. Although the journey is difficult and the way unfamiliar, I will get there.


Stuff happens, right?


Simpler times


  1. _don

    Oh good, I’m not the only one who feels like that. But then, my changes over the past seven months are a bit more…um…eventful. Some days still feel like a free fall.

    “How many times do we weather out the stormy evenings

    Long to slam the front door

    Drive away into the setting sun

    We could be down and gone but we hold on”

  2. Debbie

    Rick, I feel exactly the same way. This has been a great year for me in a lot of ways, but I still don’t know where things will settle. I am hoping there is still a lot to look forward to.

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