How does one stay sane in spite of the inherent madness of reality: by escaping it, of course. Some people watch tv or play video games, but I choose to write. Why write? Because sometimes I feel that you have to combat madness with a greater madness, and writing in its own way is a form of insanity: a compulsive, obsessive habit that people commit to with all the feverish fervor of someone who alphabetizes the items in their kitchen cabinets.
In an ideal world, we would embrace our reality, but there are many obstacles in the way of happiness: bills, work, obligations, medical issues, family problems. In order to get away, we don’t always have the money or time or PTO to go on a vacation and fly to the place farthest from where our troubles originate.
Growing up, I found that the best place to escape from reality was inside my mind. I could daydream for hours. Going inside my mind was like going on a journey. I travelled so far down a thought path when I was in first grade that I missed an entire math lesson. These days they would diagnose me with some form of attention deficit disorder.
My sister was the same way. We’d go into our own worlds, and sometimes we’d put them together. Playing pretend was our favorite past time. We invented characters of our own or imagined we were our favorite Disney or tv show characters. I’m not ashamed to admit that (probably due to my height advantage) I was often assigned to be the male characters.
Between the ages of five to ten the only thing we had to escape was boredom. We grew up in a small town where the most memorable feature was an old railroad track. We seldom went anywhere or did anything because my father was cheap and didn’t care about enriching his children’s lives. Lucky for us, we were innately imaginative and we enriched our own lives. We spent over a thousand days of our childhood in our backyard, but we weren’t in our backyard; we were on a pirate ship sailing to a new world in search of gold. The grass under our feet was the ocean; the summer breezes became the salty sea air; the pine trees planted on our neighbors yard as a wind block and property marker became a dense forest; the garage became a cave; the rock that marked our driveway, a mountain; the puddle in the driveway, a lake. In our minds we were legendary heroes going on epic adventures, to our neighbors we probably looked like halfwits.
As years went by, I began to need an escape from more than boredom: bullies and puberty were making it difficult to exist in reality. I didn’t like school, other people my age, half of my family. I didn’t even like my own body. My pretend days were over, but I discovered reading and spent all of the hours at my disposal absorbed in a book. I felt like I was behind a wall where people’s insults couldn’t reach me and it didn’t matter what I looked like or what I said. I didn’t exist.
In highschool, I got to revisit my pretending days on the theatre stage, playing characters like Ida the maid and the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina. I also discovered writing. Not only could I enjoy reading and playing out the stories and worlds made by others, I could make characters and worlds of my own.
As a full-fledged adult, I find it more challenging to find fullfilling and acceptable escapes: and I have more to run from than ever: the cold, my job, family obligations, car issues. I won’t escape the world in my car, that hasn’t started in three days due to the cold. But I can escape inside my mind. When I write, my real world doesn’t exist, but the one I’m creating does. To be honest, I prefer imaginary worlds to real ones, wether they are my own creations or ones other people have made.