Monday, June 08, 2009

Escape To Which Mountain?

When life throws a curve, or when the world weighs heavily, we all seek an escape clause.

There's nothing wrong with that. Our primitive ancestors had to deal with problems that were right in front of them: Hungry. Need food. Cold. Need fur. Horny. Need sex.

Modern man, and in this case, anybody born after 1950, does not have it so easy. You and I are aware of the larger world around us.

OK, so maybe that includes mostly just the progressive liberal side of American society unless cheap political points can be scored by conservatives whining about children, but I digress.

We have retirement accounts. We have paychecks that we live off. We have homes to pay for and cars to maintain and children to raise.

In short, the North Korean government has a nuclear sneeze, and you and I pick up a Kleenex.

Humans aren't made for that kind of stress. We fight or flight, which implies we have to have an immediate stressor, a confrontation. We don't have strong tools that allow us to be under major stresses constantly for a long term.

Enter the concept of stress-relief.

Much like the concept of Daylight Savings Time, stress relief is an attempt to alleviate a situation that shouldn't occur in the first place: the feeling of being trapped by circumstance, of seeing no way out, of not being able to fight or flee.

Some people drink. Some take drugs. Some turn to religion. Some find a hobby. But we all of us have some way to cut the tension down a bit to at least almost-manageable proportions.

I'm about to admit a vice...ok, two vices...vice, in that they are escapes from reality.

This all sort of hit home yesterday afternoon. It was about 2:30 and I was sitting at home, restless and bored, and took a walk. As I strolled through a local park, I found myself suddenly very depressed and sad. I couldn't shake the feeling, nor could I very easily understand what was going on in me.

In fact, just after I took that picture, I had this feeling of doom as I glanced at the sunbathers gathered on the small lawn under that bridge tower. And it hit me: I had to go back to work today.

And it pissed me off.

Why did it bug me so much? As I walked, the stiffness in my legs and the soreness of my back whispered loudly to me.

You see, I had ridden my bike for about 50 miles over this weekend. The weather was nice, and I had the energy, so for roughly four hours, I was free.

Free, as in free to deal with my situation as it occured. No thoughts about tomorrow. No insurance worries. No bank accounts. No work. Just me, my bike, and some small amounts of traffic and the occasional hill.

Life, the way it's supposed to be lived.

To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, here are some photos I shot this weekend. I made myself carry a point-and-shoot camera:

Kinda sweet, huh? It would be fun to get on my bike and keep riding, carrying my camera and just shooting pictures.


Yeah. It's the "but." A big "but."

We all need escapes. We all need the kind of vice that for a few moments, or hours, allows us to deal with life on our terms. Something that stops us from thinking, and starts us dealing with who we are and what we want to do.

Something that reminds us of our humanity. We are human beings, not human doings...