Running: away from all things gooey

I am an escapist almost by my nature. When my parents were going through a divorce in Primary Four, I had rather not talk about it because then I could pretend it was not quite as real as the beating and shouting and bad nights were. When I made a mistake, like breaking a glass jar of candy, I would much rather hide in a room than come and tell my mum I did it in the face and take whatever comes my way. If I forgot to bring my homework to school, the worse part would be telling the teacher that I had forgotten my homework. As I wiped the sweat off my palms and got ready to walk up to her to tell her why I did not think I deserved to sit, I would be so nervous I might as well pee in my pants. In fact, I think there was once I peed in my pants and pretended it was a leak from my water bottle. That was how much of an escapist I am.

It was – it is – always easier not to face the music. I don’t understand how or why the proverb “face the music” came about. Unless the music is noise, I think it would be quite enjoyable and comfortable to “face the music”.

I have been trudging on with this particular English class of mine for half a year. It has been tiring, and honestly, I would be kidding myself if I said their attitude was showing improvement. Ah, would it be the most blatant ridiculous lie ever! Today when H was giving them a piece of her mind, I realized how worn out I had become teaching them. I may have been trudging along week after week, hoping that one of the days, they would actually feel compassionate and cooperate, but I also realized after 10+8 weeks of fighting fire and trying to salvage their near-lost case for English, I have not quite come to love them any more, nor feel more concern about their English proficiency.

Then I asked, why? Was it because I was feeling so tired this week, my mind and heart had automatically told myself to stop worrying and caring? (No, because I feel similarly worn out week after week.) Was it because I wanted to protect myself, and so distanced myself from all of this so I wouldn’t feel so affected by the lesson? Whatever happened inside the classroom, however rude the students are, however disruptive, however malicious the remark made, if I could just ignore them all… I realized I would have then saved myself a lot of effort from my heart and mind.

This probably explains why I would much rather walk away unscathed, than invest more time and emotion and heart into what I do for them, only to find myself discouraged, dismayed and defeated. Yes, it is almost like an auto-protective mechanism that would rescue myself from self-destruction. If I could bother less, I would not feel so bothered by the nonsense. I would be superior to it all because I was indestructible by their flaming arrows and poisonous darts. I was impregnable.

It may not be the right thing, or the best thing to do. In fact, it is rather worrying that I would much rather distance myself from my kids than try to affect change for the better, isn’t it? (Yet, isn’t it only human, to do otherwise?)

We choose to draw up boundaries between ourselves and people, or things, we want to safeguard ourselves from. We do that in love too. When we have been hurt before, we would much rather draw up invisible lines and pretend to be obnoxious and selfish, or arrogant and self-fulfilled, or a workaholic and perfectionist, so that people will get the idea and not come too close.

I think the act of running away or drawing lines or choosing not to care because we do not want to be involved, because we would much rather take the path of least resistance and disappear or escape or vanish, is cowardly. It definitely proves we are human, and we can feel, but it is cowardly, because we do not dare to put ourselves in a position that leaves itself vulnerable. The moment we are thought weak, people may overstep us and take advantage of us.


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