Once, a guy who got paid to write quasi-philosophy-no, not me-said you could never go home again. And maybe that’s true in a way. You can always go back, but what you find may not be what you left.

Ironic, then, that I’m writing this column from the Free Press offices. I got off work early tonight and came back home for the evening, needing the long drive to clear my head and needing the simple act of returning home to provide a respite from Hutchinson.

I’ve always had strong ties with Hutchinson. One of my local friends had always said I should come and live there. Finally, I have-and although it’s not what I expected, I don’t regret it.

It’s closer to my two homes than Manhattan-Hillsboro in particular. I don’t have to drive as much, and I do feel more at home there than in Manhattan. More people I know, more surroundings-the comfort of familiarity.

Pre-production for my independent film is quickly inching toward the first rehearsal on March 23. Although my producer and I have been working diligently, there is still the nagging feeling that there’s more we need to do.

In between meetings with the Kansas Film Commission, coordinating schedules, and discovering that a read-through of the script clocked in at an overblown 160 minutes, we’ve had to contend with the lead actor developing a grudge toward me (something juvenile having to do with women) and taking it out on the project, and dealing with the hurdles of co-producing a movie largely via Internet messaging.

All of which is to be expected, of course, and all things that will be resolved by the end, when the film gives all those involved worldwide fame (fingers crossed).

But although I love Hutchinson, it has lost the quality it once had for me. It used to be the place I went to escape during the last couple years of high school and college. Now, that magic has worn off as I’ve settled in. For better or worse, it has lost that talismanic quality through familiarity-and I now find myself leaving to “escape” from it. Darkly ironic, in a way.

One of my favorite albums of all time is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” This isn’t the Boss in his ’80s superstar era. This is classic ’70s rock, guitars screaming, drums crashing, the saxophone and keyboards underscoring lyrics that spoke of the freedom found by jumping in a car and chasing after the magic in the night.

The characters in the songs never found it, but they kept chasing anyway, kept believing that somewhere out there was something better than what they’d been given.

Fast-forward a few years, to the far bleaker record, “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” The music had been stripped down, the vocals a mournful wail instead of a cry of triumph.

The characters were the same as on the earlier record, but they were older, hardened, embittered-confronted with facts they could not longer avoid. The romance of the highway had given way to the stark reality of failed relationships and shattered dreams.

And that darkness wasn’t just at the edge of town. It was all around them…maybe even a little bit in them. They had been running for so long only to find there was no place to go.

“Darkness” does not hold the same ranking with me that “Born to Run” does. Maybe I’m still just a bit too idealistic-and I don’t consider that a bad thing.

The essence of life is faith. Without it, the darkness takes hold, sucks you in, kills you a little bit at a time. And when you’re running, it’s always just behind you, waiting for you to blow a possibly metaphorical tire and spin out of control.

And it would take that control from you if it could. It does every day, to people all over the world-most of whom never fully emerge.

But we were not born to run-for as I’ve realized, there’s no place you can really go.

We were born to stand.

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