“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.”
― Sigmund Freud
I was raised (not born) in a city and until my twenties, I couldn’t imagine life in a small town. I couldn’t imagine living in a place where time dilated, conversations were restricted to local grapevine, and everyone could trace their neighbour’s family tree upto three generations. But it was the smallness of a small town that bothered me the most. Or more so, how big I felt in comparison. Somehow, even as a regular kid, I got the feeling: I was better than them.
Because it’s easy to get blinded by glitzy city lights. It’s easy to feel smaller than towering buildings. It’s easy to be allured by the apparent openness of city life and feign ignorance of the deteriorating human condition. It’s easy to accept walls that divide neighbours and masks that hide emotion. And it’s easy to confuse happiness with money.
“How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.”
― Alexandre Dumas
I’ve lived in different places. And every time I move to a new place, I lose a bit of the old me, while those I know remain just the way they were. It makes it harder finding a place where I belong. Can lines define where we belong? Makes me wonder if there truly is a place in this world for each one of us. A place that accepts us just the way we are. I’ve tried searching for such a place. And as a realist, I’ve came to the conclusion: it only exists in escape. Travel has proven to be a wonderful escape, taking me to some fascinating places. In those fleeting moments — I felt, I belonged.
“I think that pretty much every form of fiction (I’d include fantasy, obviously) can actually be a real escape from places where you feel bad, and from bad places. It can be a safe place you go, like going on holiday, and it can be somewhere that, while you’ve escaped, actually teaches you things you need to know when you go back, that gives you knowledge and armour and tools to change the bad place you were in.
So no, they’re not escapist. They’re escape.”
― Neil Gaiman
Great escapes offer a window to alternate realities. It’s the easiest way to experience a time warp in the real world. It gives you an opportunity to be a part of a new world instead of being a silent observer on the internet. You can temporarily forget where you come from — even if your hosts wouldn’t.
“It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.”
― Margaret Atwood
But it isn’t always necessary to travel to distant lands and fascinating cultures — to escape mundane life. It’s possible to search for escapes in your neighbourhood. Nature is ever willing to offer a brief interlude from reality. After all home can either be a room within four walls or a deserted trail in the forest.
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
― Graham Greene
And when all routes to escape are closed, I seek refuge in a blank page. It’s where I can create a world of my own. Between the dots and lines, I can escape to a place that may not always be perfect, and in all likelihood imaginary, yet one that sets me free.