The Myth that we Can Outrun our Woes

The Writer’s Almanac yesterday posted a poem called, The Rider.  The first line reads

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him.

Although it may present a nice image in a poem, the line reflects a mistake we make a lot – the mistake of thinking that if we move quickly enough we can get away from those things that make us uncomfortable. 

The tendancy, when faced with an unpleasant feeling – unhappiness, anxiety, fear, loneliness – is to try to escape from the feeling.  We try to put distance between ourselves and the feeling by occupying ourselves with some distraction.  We think we can trick the feeling into going away.

 Remember the expression, you can run, but you can’t hide?   At best the avoidance strategy offers a tremporary reprieve.  The bad feeling hides for a while, but it will return. 

Ultimately we have to face the unpleasant feeling and whatever is underneath it.  To be with the feeling, whatever it is, without trying to resist it or run away from it.  To look at it without judgement and without trying to do anything about it.

That’s not something that is easy to do alone.  It is a lot easier if we remember that God is looking at it along with us…and that whatever we find underneath, God is there.

(Happy 4th of July.)