The world doesn’t make that much sense. It really doesn’t. The rich stay rich, the poor falls deeper into the holes someone else dug for them. The people we love most leave, and the ones we loathe are the ones who decide to stay. The intelligent are chastised and the delusional are laid in thrones of power. Rarely does something happen the way we expect it to; the way we hope it would unfold. Usually it’s just disappointment followed by another chain of miserable events.
I’m not the unluckiest person in the world. Far from it in fact. Just look at the beggar children on Jakarta’s streets. They undoubtedly have been dealt a much worse set of cards than I have. But still, my life is also far from perfect. I have my problems, as you undoubtedly have yours.
Sometimes though, I honestly can’t take the pressure; the pain of having to be abandoned, to have responsibility over someone else’s life and failing, and the rest of the plentiful miseries this world has to offer. I’m not going to speak too much of the bad things that I’ve went through, the ones that I’ve done, or the ones I’m struggling with right now. Exceedingly speaking of them is a tad overdramatic, and would take way too much time. Instead, I’m just going to talk about my escape routes from reality.
When I was a kid, my parents gave me and my sisters a Sega Genesis. An old 16-bit gaming console that played 2D games the likes of Sonic, Street Fighter, and Streets of Rage — maybe other 90’s kids would be familiar with these titles. And ever since I got my hands on the controller, I’ve had trouble letting go.
The Sega Genesis was my introduction to video games. It was the start of a life-long hobby. This hobby was bolstered by my father, who when I turned six installed Rayman Brain Games on my old family computer. I don’t know why, looking back now, but I was infatuated with this game. It’s kind of strange to me, because the game was only about learning math and english; not the most exciting things to put in a video game. Nevertheless, Rayman firmly planted my addiction to interactive, virtual entertainment.
My childhood wasn’t just about video games though. A lot of things happened. A lot of very, very bad things. I think the phrase “the things closest to home hits you the hardest” is sufficient to explain the troubles that surrounded my early years. But for the sake of detail, let’s just say that I spent a lot of my time hiding in my room crying under a torrent of yells and screams. That was my world, one I had to run away from.
I didn’t have the strength or courage to flee from home. I was scared of bugs, the dark, and plenty of other unimportant elements. So I stayed. Yet my mind went astray as it fled to the realm of video games.
Back then, I didn’t care what kind of games I played. They could’ve been good, bad, or even awful. My reason to play them wasn’t for entertainment, it was to run. You see, video games are a form of fiction. And in fiction — whether good or bad — you get sucked into a world different from your own; you get to be someone else, tackle all sorts of fantastical problems, ultimately live the life you wish would replace yours. All those things were what I needed. Thus I became a recluse; an antisocial child whose main concerns were the pixelated characters of another world. For a time, it was enough.
Then I had to grow up.
In my adolescence I grew apart from video games. Rather, I was torn away from it. The pressure to start socializing was too much. Because of that, I had to force myself to make some friends. It’s not that I’m ungrateful to have had them, but associating with them wasn’t entirely my choice. It was something I had to do, to replace the gradually lessening time I had to sit and play in front of the TV.
Fortunately, some friends were more intriguing than the rest. In my teenage years, I encountered individuals whose lives were riddled with problems — perhaps issues that were far more cumbersome than mine. Their days were plagued with constantly resurfacing troubles. A few, either through stupidity or naivety, decided to ask for my advices. Those advices, however, grew to active assistances.
I messed with the lives of my friends. I didn’t busy myself with the usual teenage crap — break-ups, unrequited loves, such and such. I bothered with the people who were plagued with what society so elegantly calls “broken homes.” It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was often so difficult, that I more often than not ended up worsening their predicaments.
I had to pretend to be someone else at that time: someone who knew what was going on. Problem was, I actually didn’t. I was as dumbfounded, and as clueless as they were. All I did was try to make them do the best they could with their circumstances, — that is, what I thought were the best courses of action — and sometimes provide them with basic resources. But still, those days provided me with more than mere distractions. They gave me a full-time job.
I abandoned my school-life almost completely. I devoted almost all of my time doing this “work.” I transferred to a homeschooling institution during my second year of high-school. Due to this, I had a lot of free time on my hands. Those hours, I invested in trying to improve the lives of those around me. Unfortunately, this delusional fantasy of mine ended up crumbling.
There was one case where I botched things up far too horribly. I didn’t help the person I was trying to in the slightest. I tried to rewrite the course of her life by forcing my ideals on her. Never once thinking that hers might actually be better. It didn’t work; it couldn’t have worked. In the end, she ran away from everything — her school, her friends, her home, her life. So I stopped. I realized that I had never tried to help anyone, that all I did was another escape attempt from my own life. I couldn’t stand to let this escape affect the few people I cared about in a negative way.
Although I had become a failure, I still had a few people from the so-called “broken homes” that I saw as friends. Let’s call them Ray and Claire. They were the ones whose lives I presumably hadn’t wrinkled. Maybe I did manage to help them or, more likely, they helped themselves. The three of us wasted about two years doing nothing. We lived life the way it was supposed to be lived: pointlessly.
For some time, they were my escape. I didn’t have to face anything when I was with them. When the worst storms hit, all I had to was seek their shelter, and they’d successfully protect me. Those were the good old days, I suppose. Those were the times when I didn’t have to pretend to know anything, and just enjoy the little things.
However, distance grew between us — both real and metaphorical. We began to separate ourselves. One cause for this was my infatuation with Claire. Ray, while knowing this, dated her behind my back anyway. I obviously wasn’t pleased to learn of this little tidbit. So we quarreled for some time. Though I ended up accepting the existence of their relationship, I couldn’t entirely welcome Ray’s decision. I lied, and said I did. Yet truth be told, I couldn’t and still can’t revive my trust in him. A simple reason for that is that I would never, ever, have done what he did if I were in his shoes.
Subsequently, my escape route collapsed. I didn’t mind at the time. I had completely forgotten about all the other troubles I had. I thought that the worst thing in my world was what Ray did. Sadly, I was wrong.
Some old, and some new issues came up again. Ones that I perceived as having passed away quietly. I was forced back to see my life the way my childhood self did; a never ending whirlpool of repetitive smacks to my mental health. If this sounds a little exaggerated, it is, but it is how I see some of the bad episodes that happen around me — they tend to be exhausting after some time.
The only escape I have now is this. What I am doing right as I punch down on my laptop’s keys. Writing is the last safe haven I have. It is the only place where I do not have to depend on other people’s mercies, nor have to feel responsible for the quality of their lives. Most important of all, the world of text makes sense. It has to make sense.
Nonetheless, I have recently stumbled upon a conclusion. An answer to why I can’t face my problems; why I have to keep on running. I’m weak. That’s all there is to it. I don’t have the power required to survive in a world without logic, without structure. A world where everything you know could suddenly be proven wrong, and the people you love swiftly taken from you.
That is why I will always construct escape routes. There’s a great possibility that all of them will shatter, and I can understand that. But the sad truth is that I need them. Maybe everyone’s feels the same way, as they trot on in their lives.
I do not care how pathetic running away sounds. If all struggling does is tear you down, finish you off as your sanity slowly vanishes into nothing, what good does it do?