509. Running Away

I once read a card, on an art teacher’s door, that said “Art is the only way of running away without leaving home.” While I agree with part of the message, I don’t think the message applies only to art. It’s true of music, too. And dance, writing, reading, math, science, and probably other fields of inquiry and learning I haven’t thought of. We don’t have to go down the Mississippi on a raft or join the circus to run away. It’s possible to satisfy a lot of wander lust without actually wandering. And I’m glad; I’m not able to travel as easily as I used to. Writing and other adventures are how I run away now when I want to. Those routes are cheaper and more accessible to me.
Children love adventure, and we adults can’t always make “real” adventures available. Sometimes we can; sometimes what we do with children is exciting, and less vicarious than a lot of adventures children experience. But so far, we can’t take children on intergalactic voyages, and most of us can’t sail the seven seas with them. There’s too much other stuff to do, and most of us don’t have access to the necessary vehicles. Sorry, kids.
And so we find adventure where and when we can. And who’s to say how vicarious an experience is? I used to dream of some day moving to Amherst. That, to me, would be Oz, Narnia, Shangri-La, or whatever. I do have fond memories of other places, and sometimes I still go to other places – even to some I’ve never been to before. But my main dream was to some day live here, where I live now. To get here, I had to sort of run away, and that’s what I did. My fair weather journeys on the bike trail here are, to me, what the raft on the Mississippi was to Huck Finn.
Running away has a bad reputation among some people. And life does ask some questions for which running away is not the answer. But sometimes it is the answer. It’s why some people take trips to faraway places. It’s not necessarily because they’re escaping parts of life they ought to stay home and face. Running away can be a creative and constructive act. So far, my decision to run away to Amherst has proven to be a good one. And I feel a growing commitment to this community; now, going elsewhere would feel like running away, and I don’t want to. Amherst is enough of an adventure for me.
We were all born on the same planet, and so far, none of us has really run away for long. At least, not when you think of earth as the place to run away from. But many of us like wandering, and some of us, out of necessity or by choice, do most of our wandering in ways that don’t require actual travel – we read, write, sing, dance, paint, or whatever else works for us. Those activities aren’t only ways to run away, but they’re good ways to do so when we need to.

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