I play this game sometimes. It’s a product of every bad suspense thriller I’ve ever seen. I’m on the run, shoving clothes in a bag, and jumping into my car with a two-day scruff and whatever I can pick up in ten minutes.
I’ve been able to play the game several times in the past couple of weeks. I’ve traveled to four different cities, seen a wide variety of friends, and run into people I haven’t seen in more than a decade.
Along the way, I’ve played the role of fugitive. I’ve shaved twice and grown back a small amount of stubble. I’ve put on weight and look different than I did when I left home 18 days ago. It’s been a pleasure trip and fit its description nearly every step of the way.
Tonight, just a few hours from home, we stopped. The wife, kid, and dog can only take so much time in a car, so we’ve bedded down for the night along I-40. They’re all already asleep. I’m watching the second half of the Monday Night Football game and smiling at the fact I saw the fireworks over the Tennessee stadium as I drove by.
This particular life is odd. Our car is a rolling office and space shuttle. We have satellite radio, cell service, internet service with a working laptop, GPS mapping and tracking, and DVD entertainment with wireless headphones for the boy. I spent the better part of the late afternoon watching the sun set through polarized windows and listening to political coverage on CNN as my wife took dictation and sent work e-mails for me at 80 mph. As far as the world was concerned, I was sitting in an office, managing a worldwide network of people, and fretting over how Budapest could conflict with Manila and whether San Jose would find a way to mess up both.
As the sun sank over the horizon, my wife needed a nap, the kid was watching some Pixar flick, and dog was doped up enough to be resting in the back seat. The car fell quiet except for the constant drone of world news on CNN. I found my mind drifting to things that didn’t involve the fact my life is again in serious flux. I found myself wondering about this little fugitive game. My tired mind let the metaphor wander for a bit too long and stumble into a conclusion.
Despite the fact no one is chasing me, I’ve been running for quite a while. I put it at somewhere around three years that I’ve been fooling myself into believing I had ten minutes to pack everything I have and get in the car. I’ve let myself believe that if I wasn’t always running, I would get caught and tied down forever.
Though I’m not really sure of anything, I’m slowly reaching the conclusion that I’ve been running from nothing but myself. It has nothing to do with how much time I spend in a car or on a plane. I’ve been running while sitting in a chair at home.
I still plan to travel a lot in the next six months or so, but I plan on doing far less running. I may be getting gray, I may be getting tired, and I may not have as much steam as I did ten years ago. With that accepted, I think I may have figured out that I still have some time to stop running from whatever it is that I’ve imagined has been chasing me.
I guess that is a very long way to say that I may have just realized it is okay to run as long as I’m not running away.