Escape? Escapism? Both? None?
How I Go crazy, Get out, Get happy and Get back.
A little look into my life, my mind, and my thoughts that bubble to the surface.
Fingers moving, eyes transfixed on a distant point, neither here nor there. Lay the fork down, slide the knife in between the fork’s teeth. Roll the duo halfway up the folded napkin, tuck in the pointed corners, roll up further, pulling tighter. One down, three hundred to go. Not remotely close to the end. The beginning of a shift feels like preparation for a bomb to go off. Scatter brained, mentally checking off a list that becomes longer with each task done.
“Emma, can you go around and straighten each roll up on the tables?”
“Emma, can you roll up two more buckets of silverware?”
“Who’s going to light all the candles?”
“Can you run the dishwasher?”
“Emma, can you cover this shift?”
“Can you chop the tofu?”
“Set up the bread station please.”
“Bring the recycling out will you?”
“Emma, can you come in early? Stay late? Close up? Open tomorrow?”
My life becomes an endless list of tasks, chores, responsibilities, favors, perpetual and inexhaustible action until I come undone. But it is necessary. I’ve made a choice to live this way. I’ve dedicated each waking moment, trading my time for funds, selling my leisure for more free time later, giving up lazy mornings twice a week for a lazy winter, six months of the year.
I remember my first year out of college. Ambitions and desires for the real world came crashing down on my tiny heart during a meeting with my financial advisor. I was broke. Like big time. So broke that I’d be dealing with this broke-ness until I was in my thirties or forties. I remember crying for a day straight, coming undone in a way that was inexplicable to my friends. My sadness pervaded my every thought. I just wanted to travel, to live in a tree house, to do things that brought me joy. To surf, to meet new faces, to learn what it is that makes humans tick. I thought I could change the world by bringing others joy. How I was going to do this? Who cares! I went to college! Took out tons of loans…. and my dream was squashed.
Of course, I did go live in a treehouse. I carried that sadness and flattened ambition in my backpack down to an island in the Caribbean. Cleaned tents and bleached roofs. Emptied tupperware of cockroaches, cleaned cobwebs and dead scorpions out of nooks and crannies. Working in a housekeeping department of lovely friends just to keep a small tent roof over my head in a magical village above turquoise waters.
“Emma when will you return to the real world?”
“What are you going to do for real?”
I had to make a decision. Stay and barely make payments on my debt or leave and join the “real world” with the rest of my boomerang college grads. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, federal debt takes all the pushing and shoving and puts you on a ledge.
Here it goes, my free fall to freedom.
Two years later, I sit in my car between shifts at a winery, a lifeguard stand and a restaurant. All incredible businesses, popular in their own right, serving thousands upon thousands of consumers. Caring for their every need, wether it be pouring their wine, describing the nuances of cryo-vac sealing lobster with fennel and lemon, or saving their ass from a rip tide the next day… I am a servant of the public need.
I email my parents in those in-between moments, Skype my overseas friends, iMessage my boyfriend, anything to feel like ME for a moment. I change my shirt, my shoes, my hair, my uniform, my personality to fit each job. Authoritative and hawk-like during the day, vicarious and caring, a connoisseur of local wine, a quiet server detailing dishes with joy, scraping the plates clean into the trash, mainlining miso soup to maintain energy. This is my escapism: endure the dark depths of the service industry, lose myself in work personas, responsibilities override sanity.
Ah, but the winter is so c-l-o-s-e. I am dying for the season to come to an end. Complaints about the heat, the chill, the wind, the bugs, the sharks, the water, the wine, the food, the very essence of existing on this planet fall off patrons’ tongues in a nanosecond, all ringing in my ears. My tired eyes and numb consciousness leap for joy when I know it’s time to book the ticket. I can move out of the attic apartment. Stop sharing a bathroom with a sixty year old woman. Enjoy the privacy of anonymity. Strangers bring me the greatest joy, allowing me to recreate who I am on a perpetual basis. No time to fall into undeserving patterns.
Daily joy is the aim.
Traveling somewhere new, somewhere foreign, somewhere I don’t have to serve anyone anything, except myself a daily dose of happiness. Opportunities arise to serve others, often, and when they arise… I jump at the opportunity. Knocking down walls and helping rebuild a friend’s home, assisting in surf lessons, teaching new friends yoga to help out back pain. I do this not for me, but for others… but something magical happens when you help others, you feel happy too. Gratitude is a game changer.
What do you need now, right now, right here, in this moment? Go fucking do it. What makes you come alive? Whatever it is, it is what you need to do regularly. This is the most valuable lesson I’ve taken from the past few years on the road: Find out what makes you come alive.
I will always return (do not fret, lovely parents) to the pattern of selling my time, exhausting shift-to-shift-to-shift days and rekindling my obsessive work ethic. Something needs to fund my travel, my desire to get out, to forget what pisses me off about society, to reach the deepest truth inside myself.
Real World Reality
I have yet to figure out if I am simply escaping the “real world”. Who coined that phrase anyway? It seems to have taken on it’s own meaning. Devoid of having to actually feel “real”, it tends to be used as a label for those who have taken on the path more traveled and blended into society, the status quo. Work that 9-5, meet your coworkers for drinks after, have consensual sex with strangers, party like hell on the weekends, or do whatever on the weekends.Monday is the start day, Friday the salvation. Comparing your life with others on social media, the humble bragging, the Twitter wars (what?!), Instagram modeling, hanging out on Google+. This, of course, is my shameless assumption of all you “real-world”-ers, my beautiful friends and strangers.
Right now, in Indonesia, is the beginning of the rainy season. Every day it rains, and will rain, for months. Some see this is a negative, specifically tourists. However, I find it quite refreshing. You can feel the change in the air, the humidity dissipating, driving all forms of life for cover. It brings home the deepest feeling of nurturing. We all want cover from the rain, yet we all need it to survive. In that time, I remind myself that we all need to weather the storm. My storm takes place in the form of three job schedules, employee uniforms, and stress in the summertime. But with all rain comes life and respite.
In contrast to my life prior to my escape, I don’t need to go anywhere, at any time, for any one. Eyes open when the sound of roosters break through my dreams. The breath is an unconscious constant, now consciously observed through silence and a comfortable seat. Meditation isn’t something I can just say I will do later. Now is the most important time of the day, all day. The surge of the oceans tides, energy pulsating through the water from miles away, bring small surges of water over reef, forcing it to converge upwards, creating walls of water, shifting energy to slide along. Unbridled energy, surging waves, bringing together thousands from all countries to ride the waves. This is the force that brings me here, approximately 10,350 miles away from where I was born and raised. My escape heightens my self awareness.
Regardless of what brings you away, leaving your comfort zone will make you see things differently; your senses are heightened, awareness is at its fullest. Eventually you will notice what beliefs you take on to get you through harder times. It will also make you realize what you’ve left behind. How life isn’t all that bad. It will open your eyes and show you what’s been sitting in front of you, all along. Time to stop escaping and be here, right now.
I haven’t figure out what I’m doing yet, but I know that my escape isn’t necessarily escapism. That would imply that I leave my problems behind. It is full circle, you can run away, but your issues will always come along with you. The only way to escape them is to embrace them.
This is what Global Frolic is all about. Finding your joy. Facing your fears. Following your bliss. Finding an escape amongst all the escapism. Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it for life.
Do it now.
Now is the most important time of day.