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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Undone Buttons: When We Ran

We Ran  

Lyric by John Hiatt

Could have been the kiss of my life
Could have been the death of me
Could have been that I was just too scared
To wait around and see

You could have been a guardian angel

I could have been the wicked one
Besides the buttons on our shirts, girl,
What else did we leave undone?
When we ran
Was it just the time slippin' through our hands?
Right through our hands

Maybe I was tryin' to tell ya
I'd never known a love so strong
Maybe in the shadows of the night
We just couldn't tell right from wrong
Maybe it's a real-life story
Livin' with the sad regrets
Maybe it was just a sweet dream baby
Somethin' that I can't forget
When we ran
Was it just the time slippin' through our hands?

You only had to say the word
I would have turned around and heard
But as it is we can't turn back
The mind's just a trash can, baby
And the memories, rolling dice
We had something one time, girl,
But we thought about it twice
When we ran
When we ran ...

The most haunting questions in our minds remain because "we ran" from past opportunities. With our own foible intuition, we distanced ourselves from certain situations and encounters. Then, at a conceived "safe distance" from the questionable opportunity, we tried to convince ourselves that these things were not to be. Even if we say God or fate "meant" whatever "became," we can never deny our own "running away."

Try as we might, we cannot evict the emotions of our own desertion from our memory. Perhaps that is because uncertainty never dies.

Important puzzles of our past remain unsolved in our brains -- moments, opportunities, could have's, maybe's -- the indelible memories of brief encounters left undone. Premature evasions litter our memories as refuse. They serve no purpose, so we should let them die and repress them, yet when "we ran" from uncertain outcomes, we assured their permanent addresses in the avenues of our lingering wonders and regrets. 

Even the briefest past encounter from which we ran can greatly disturb our minds. One hello, one kiss, one smile, one touch, one remark, or one action that we feel we left too rashly may be burned into our memories because we lacked the will to pursue it. And, even though our trusted conscience and reliable logic convinced us "running away" was the best possible choice, we continue to wonder what might have been if we had stayed the course.

Consideration and patience are admirable traits, but they are certainly not foolproof. Wonderful opportunities can elude us when our modus operandi is to flee in trepidation at the first sign of uncertainty. Then, we may become terrified of living in the moment because of all the possible unpleasant consequences. And yet we know taking calculated risks increase our chances of being happy. 

It is important to understand that when "we ran" from circumstance, we initiated the division. That caused the pain that remains in our memories. "We" did "it" to our ourselves, no matter the result of the lost opportunity. As much as we would love to blame our desertions on others, we know we have only ourselves to blame. Whether "a run" resulted in positive or negative consequences will remain unknown and haunt us because we neglected to fulfill our obligation to complete the task.

You see, rationality and running are usually at odds. We are often told by the wise that "running away" from problems and decisions is unacceptable behavior. In fact, most believe purposely avoiding outcomes shows cowardice. Yet, we all use flight to avoid unforeseen circumstances. In short, we all "run."

As the great artist John Hiatt writes, perhaps these flights of the past were just times that "slipped through our hands." And, God and Willie Nelson know well that "time slips away" from all of us. But, that's another lyric and another blog entry.

One thing I do know is that I would have done less "running" from opportunities that showed the slightest promise. I should have tried to optimize my gamble instead of avoiding variety and looking for the one "real thing" in life. Hell, I'm not sure now exactly what is real. And, besides, now I know it is impossible to read the cards until you play out the promising hand.

John Hiatt

Linda Ronstadt singing John Hiatt's "We Ran"

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