From our first moments in life, we are born with instincts. Crying, laughing, seeking comfort, being dazzled by the colorful objects around us. We want to be held in our mother’s arms and shushed back to sleep. In those moments, we want to escape being alone. In many ways, there’s nothing quite so terrifying as being a child and waking up alone in the dark. Just crawl into bed with your mama and papa, and everything will be alright.
And yet, as we grow, we learn quickly that our parents can’t solve our every needs. They draw the lines in the sand and we stand forlorn on the other side. That’s when you find an escape. Maybe it’s a hobby, maybe it’s a television program. Might be running like a turkey outside making all kinds of ungodly noises.
There’s a palpable unease that begins in the quiet moments of life, when we’re forced to look inward and see ourselves. It’s easier to escape, and it’s actually a good thing in every sense of the word.
What is an Escape?
Allow me to define: escaping is taking oneself out of the present moment and into something else. It’s reaching out with one’s focus and attention to an idea that is not yourself. Escaping can be altering your mindset with alcohol just as easily as it is getting engrossed in a good story. Our bodies and minds long for an adventure that is often not present in life. Life is actually quite dull most of the time. Let’s say you’re sitting on the toilet. It’s something everyone does, regardless of if you’re at work, home, or some strange swampy gas station. You are defecating and there’s nothing interesting nor enlightening about that. So what do you do? You find some means of escape, even if that means grabbing a can of Lysol so you can best inform yourself on cleaning techniques. Is this really what you want to be doing? Did you lose your phone or something? You’re escaping and if you take a look at what you’re doing, you’ll be able to find out something about yourself.
Why Must I Escape?
Life is scary sometimes, but mostly it’s just not that entertaining. Long lost are the times when we are fighting sabretooth tigers for dinner and having sex at will. Everything is so much more complicated now. We have to earn a paycheck, which is some bastardized way of assigning your own worth in a currency. We have to perform an elaborate song and dance ritual while presenting what we believe to be our best selves to win over potential mates. We have to look up reverse mortgage fees to see if we’re being scammed. Woo.
At work, how many times are you asked on Monday, “Joe, what’d you do on the weekend?” and how often did you have absolutely nothing to say. The weekend is supposed to be an escape from work, but is it? You’re left alone to your devices, which is inherently stressful. Might be that you have a family now which means there are several figures who might as well be bosses in different outfits. Everyone expects something from you now. It’s so hard to be carefree.
What if you could change that? What would your life look like if you dropped all of your inherited and bullshit responsibilities and just ran away? Most people dream about it, it’s not just you. The grass is so very green in Hawai’i or Las Vegas, maybe even Japan if that’s your thing.
The reality is that people are the same everywhere, just with different external rules to observe. If you move to Paris, it’s just a different set of social cues to pick up on and unwritten faux paus to observe. If you really want to escape, you’ll have to think deeper; differently.
Can Escapism Lead to Happiness?
Happiness is building something. Happiness is creation and fulfillment. Happiness is making a difference in your own little world. Remember when you were young and you created that really cool building with Legos? Then you destroyed it, right? We experience countless beginnings and endings to things, but how often are they within our control? Find some way of exerting your hands and your intellect to make a difference. That begins with getting away from yourself. Oft quoted is the phrase, “You’re your own worst enemy.” Who else has the power to destroy your life? It’s not really your boss at work that’s ruining your waking hours, it’s you. Stop it. Get out of your head and focus.
Is it Possible to Escape Too Much?
Sure. There are three contending realities in every human’s life. These personas are sleeping, public and private.
- Sleep: This is the you that is pretending to be dead. You combine all sorts of weird nonsensical remnant ideas together and create false narratives with them
- Public: This is the you that steps outside the door. You’ve got your own smile, clothing and a hairdo that tells everyone at a glance what you’re about. It’s all bullshit and people will constantly misunderstand you
- Private: This is the you that you can change and control. Craft and mold it wisely.
If you go too far in any of these three directions, you’ll lose sight of the other two. If your public persona dominates, you’ll find yourself like a ship lost at sea. You won’t even remember what it means to have fun. You’ll just be another dull, boring moron.
If you sleep too much, you’ll get lost in the dreams. Depression is made of sleep.
If you go too far into your private persona, you’ll forget what being fake and well-rested can do for you. Said every businessman ever.
How Do I Choose My Escape?
Close your eyes and forget everything in your life that you don’t want to do. What sounds good right now? Is it baking a cake and then eating the whole thing? Escaping is about engaging in your desires. It’s about making your fantasies more than just abstract ideas. This is your life. Get away from yourself and find something that makes you smile. Empathize with another human, soothe a crying baby, eat a whole chocolate cake. The only sin is passivity.
Religion and politics are great escapes, you know? Why does it feel so reassuring to sit in the pews and pray? You’re leaving yourself and joining the whole congregation in a collective thought bubble aimed at something external. It feels so good.
When they’re reading your eulogy while you spin around in an urn or ride that casket, they’ll just be talking about your public persona, but you’ll know the truth. While it’s just your sleep persona that won out in the end, you had some good times. Keep a journal, it might inspire someone later.