Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Gingerbread Man

"Run run as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"

My mother tells me that this used to be my favourite story when I was little kid, with "The Three Little Pigs" coming a close second. She would read "The Gingerbread Man" to me every day and it got to a point where I could recite the whole thing with her, right down to the periods and the page turns. She says when it was time for me to join preschool, when the principal met me, he thought I could read, because I recited the story, with the page turns, at the age of three. I don't remember any of this, of course, but it's good to know I was a smart kid :p

Anyway, it's funny how some things come back to you and I think it's a sign of growing up and growing old when a childhood story can be twisted into an adult allegory. I say this because I realised the other day, that I am the gingerbread man. Running as fast and far as I can to try and escape the realities of my life I don't like.

I ran away the moment I found an escape, leaving home and family to go to college in another city. I rarely ever felt homesick. I looked for internships in places far from home. When I graduated, I never even considered moving back home. I continued running, staying as far away as possible, a visitor once in three months for a weekend at a time.

I ran away from the memories my house held, the loneliness of the city, the friends I never had. I found a way to leave and I never looked back. I made other friends and found a new city that I adopted as home, telling myself this is what people do and what I was doing was just normal.

With all the running away I never stopped to think about the people I was leaving behind to handle what I was running away from. I was too weak and I left the heavy lifting to everyone else.

But that's the thing about running away. Once you start, you never stop.

Because no matter how fast or far you run, the people and the reality you leave behind will always catch up. While this would all sound so much cooler as a spy detective thriller, having your reality catch up to you isn't nearly as thrilling.

The people you left behind to deal with the messes you made, the memories that trip you up when you least expect them, and the realization of how much of a coward you are for running away - they will catch up. And then there are no excuses you can make to yourself, nothing you can say to make yourself feel better.

That's how you are reminded of how weak you truly are. How you know you do not have it in you to go back.

How you are just a coward.

How do I know this? Because I thought I was done and then I had my realization too - the epiphany that I am still running. Only this time, I found YOU to run to. Kind, warm, strong you who believes in my lies, my masks. Who doesn't see the stupid crying child I hide behind big words and bigger speeches. I am still the gingerbread man, running away from my past and my present, only now I conveniently cry into your arms. Stupid scared cowardly little me.

The gingerbread man eventually got caught and eaten by those who were chasing him.

I wonder when my time will come.