Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Running Man (or as commenter Meursault says, "The Gypsy")

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.

16 comments:

Meursault said...

Well, that's what you get for dating gypsies, I suppose. Never expect a settled relationship from a man who tries to sell you pegs. He'll just move on sister, he'll just move on.

LandHere said...

TRM, that's a nice new one! I agree with a lot of the commenters on here that some of the rants seem more about men in general but gypsyish men who are always on the run, well, China definitely attracts more than our fair share of those!

frank said...

Hm... Is it just me or do I detect some jealousy from the authoress?

Gypsy's are people to. As are nomads. Arguably the two "free-est" type of people you will ever meet.

chinaphil said...

Yeah, I have to say this post made me want to be a gypsy much more than a cubie slave. These rants where you get told "life isn't just about having fun, you know" always seem to say a little more about the ranter than the ranted.

Kathleen001 said...

I think the boys above are missing the point, as boys so often do. Freedom and travel are great. But when you feel the need to bolt whenever there is a bump in the road, then that's just immaturity. Or if you know you're the type that can't deal with problems and will run away, don't pretend to be committed because that's just hurtful to the people who start depending on you.

SharisseKennedy said...

This type does breeze through the cap a lot don't they? I think Kathleen001 is right. The point isn't don't go have fun, or don't travel. The writer doesn't say that at all. The point is life's not always smooth sailing and men (and women) need to grow up and recognize that. Be a gypsy or a nomad, if that suits you but do it because it's how you want to live life, not because you are running away from something. And K girl, you're right, don't get into something if you know you are the running type. That's just thoughtless. China Dirt, I feel ya.

kaiser said...

Marvelous post, I thought. As a (former) Runner, I think you nailed it pretty much on the head. Just getting started reading your blog, and looking forward to perusing the whole collection here. If you're pissing them off, you're doing your work well.

lazy said...

I feel you, sister, used to date one of the gypsies, that's exactly how I feel when I saw him through. Keep up the good vibes, I enjoy your posts.

Fried Lice said...

Wow. That was a great post. This blog is really top-shelf.

Driver8 said...

The man was running away all along. You just didn't notice the gilded word over rotted soul. Better yet you should have measured in yourself the need to back away from the real life. Next time take what being offered, then quietly send him packing.

Megan said...

Another great post! I love the sass. But this one's not as funny as the others. It's pretty encouraging to see women write funny. It gives me a lot of hope for my own budding comedic efforts! Yea girls!

Jacob said...

I'm a recently lonely and sad male in my early 20s and with no connection whatsoever to China except my Taiwanese friend who linked me to your blog (thanks Janet!).
The bitterness in your blog satisfies the immature spite I'm feeling toward the ex-girl right now. Just kidding, actually my response is more like your intended response from you intended audience: I'm empathizing, your sadness resonates with mine, and I find it cathartic to find articulated how I'm feeling and what kind of loserness (yes, it's a word) it takes for someone to have missed their opportunity with me.
I wanted to congratulate you all on your writing and keen observations, and to throw my two cents against those who complain when your topics are not specifically enough Chinese: your blog has appeal because its themes and human insights are universal. It's clear from reading that Beijing culture is not without its distinct (and frustrating) characteristics, but it is nevertheless the case that most of what you describe in relationships is found anywhere and everywhere, and is valuable and interesting at least partly for that reason. Keep it up,
Jake

JeanieNChina said...

Yup. Dated one of these. Except he'd come back from every country with little more than tales of what kind of bars there are. Great. That's insightful. Why bother paying for a plane ticket if each trip is no different from a night of bar hopping at home?

Younghusband said...

Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels fastest who travels alone...

I've travelled all over and experienced so much that I feel when I stop stagnation/death will result.
I'm 35 this year and sure I'd like to have one place to keep all the things I've accumulated instead of binning them when I let go and jump again into the unknown.Having someone I trust to build my life around would be nice.So would an old chateau in France I could do up and retire in, but right now I'm surrounded by noise in a bloody prefab Chinese flat.
You're offering your 'running man' stability, safety, monotony. I've been offered that and more on the Tyrrhenean, Atlantic and Adriatic coasts provided I can ignore the fact that life continues to pass by and flowers wilt as I keep an eye on the clock while someone expects me to hold them indefinitely.

Skippy-san said...

Young husband sums things up quite well in his last comment. The onky proper response to this post is the words : Bite me!

Some people order the extra roung because they like drinking. And if it is because they want to numb the pain-well its their choice to do so. Get off the high horse-if I had wanted to stay home and live the soccer dad life, with all its mind numbing monotony I would have stayed in the US.

I like traveling-as I suspect so does your friend. He probably also likes the smell and feel of a nice looking woman. Who are you to judge him?

What I do not understand is why folks come to Asia and then get upset that many of us gaijin choose not to recreate the world we left behind. I don't want that-its bad enough that so many women are trying to insist on it.

I've never been to China, but if it attracts gypsies it sounds like my kind of place. Leave youor friend alone and let him live his life on his terms. Sounds to me like you are just jealous.

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