Dear Running Man,
You came along when I was slaving away at a job in which each day felt like a tour through every layer of Dante's Inferno. You were like a breath of fresh air rushing through lungs that were drying out from ten hours a day in hell. You taught me to relax. You taught me there was more to life than work, work, work. You assured me that it was OK and even noble to enjoy life.
You seemed to live life so well. "He seems so calm, so happy, so Zen," I thought to myself, "whereas I'm always frantic and stressed." Looking around at the stacks of reports and screen full of unanswered work emails that made up my life, I realized that my long hours in the eternally 23 degrees celsius office had robbed me of the knowledge of even what season it was outside. I decided you, with your carefree manner, jovial laugh and long nights spent bonding with friends, had a better way. Almost spiritual.
I learned a lot from my time with you. I learned to live in the moment. I learned to put friends ahead of meetings. I learned that an extra hour of intimate late night conversation is well worth being tired the next day. I learned to leave work behind when I exit the office.
But the biggest lesson I learned is that you're not the deep, spiritual, life-embracing man I thought you were. You're just a scared little boy.
Your call for another round of drinks may seem to everybody else simply merrymaking but I've learned it's a way for you to numb whatever is hidden deep inside. Staying out with the boys for just a little longer is a way to avoid being alone, and later, avoid dealing with problems at home. Your disdain of being tied to an office, or any job, isn't a noble rejection of "evil corporate culture," it's a refusal to acknowledge that there are responsibilities in life.
I admired the way you seemed to embrace life. But life consists of more than just what's happy, easy and carefree. Truly embracing life means accepting the difficulties as well. It means recognizing that there are obligations to fulfill, bills to pay, arguments to work through, illnesses to battle, jobs to lose and jobs to gain, hard times to comfort one another through, unexpected circumstances to contend with and problems to solve. It means recognizing that a fulfilling life is not handed to you on a platter but something you work to create.
You're quite the traveler. The pins upon the world map you have on your wall, marking where you've been, are so many that if I squint a little, the numerous metallic pintips blur the whole paper into a sheet of gray. But you don't travel just to see new places. You travel to run away from an old place whenever the realities of life catch up there.
I have no doubt what you will do. Another place. I've already heard you mention the plans. And don't think I haven't heard the rumors of the lovely new travel partner. It doesn't matter. Real men don't hide by roaming distant streets or finding comfort in another's arms. Real men stay and embrace all that life offers-the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult.
They say you can run but you can't hide. I don't think that's true. You've been doing both successfully for so long. But if you ever stop running for just a moment and look around, you'll find that all you have are quirky travel stories, boxes filled with pictures of exotic lands, a map punctured with holes, but nobody real to hold while you stand still.