Saturday, July 23, 2016

Escape

As a lifelong fan of sci-fi and fantasy I have been experiencing make-believe worlds and caring for make-believe people for as long as I can remember. There are those who would have me believe this is somehow unhealthy, as if entering into these worlds means I am escaping from my own. Maybe I am escaping the real world... but who would blame me with the world the way it is now.


I don't agree with those who consider any enjoyment of make-believe worlds to be "escapism" and use the word disparagingly. There is no naturally disparaging meaning to escapism. Normally the word escape has only positive meaning (at least to the person escaping). 

The dictionary defines escapism as "The tendency to seek, or the practice of seeking, distraction from what normally has to be endured." I think you will have trouble finding one person in the world who doesn't seek distraction at one time or another. What is wrong with distraction? Eating is a distraction, exercise is a distraction, sex is a distraction. I don't see anyone complaining about participating in any of those activities.

I will admit to occasionally needing to unwind from my day by reading or watching sci-fi or fantasy. For the time I give myself to those worlds the cares and troubles of the real world cease to be any bother at all. The only real problem would be in not wanting to leave the fantasy and remaining in make-believe all the time. Anything when taken beyond the bounds of moderation is usually bad for you and fantasy is no exception. Leaving cares behind for a short time can be therapeutic... leaving them forever can lead to even bigger problems. 

In my case I believe I use such escapism to deal with the pull of the road not taken by taking such a road, if only vicariously, through works of fantasy. I certainly cease to feel unrest while adventuring through the stars or while questing to save a kingdom. Fantasy is my escape of choice. We can argue in another post that stories like Star Wars are actually fantasy and not sci-fi. Though you can escape into anything, Romance, Eroticism, Historical fiction, and yes fantasy. I have read (and watched) many different genres over the years but I always come back to fantasy when I need a short break from adulting.

I have been asked before why it's fantasy I like so much, I have not been able to come up with a better answer than "Because I do." Which is a little kids answer and usually doesn't satisfy the questioner. It doesn't satisfy me either which is a bigger problem. How can I possibly like something so much and not be able to explain why? This of course if part of the larger problem I have knowing myself. It's the same if you ask me almost anything that starts with "why do you..." I don't even know where to look to find out the why of it. As I have thought about this particular question more this week the best I can come up with is that I think it's the adventure that makes sci-fi and fantasy so important to me. I believe that what I need when I escape is the one thing truly missing from my life, adventure. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not looking to add adventure to my life. I really am an indoor kinda guy. I do not want to climb mountains, or trek across Africa, or search for archaeological treasures in Peru. But when I read or watch Raiders of the lost Ark for example I get the adventure of all of these above without the heat, sweat, bugs, snakes, dirt, etc, that would be the reality of such adventure. I could be completely off base with this, I mean looking into myself for the meaning, the why, of things is very new to me and I could be so completely full of crap that it might not have anything at all to do with why. I have to continue looking, thinking and trying to figure out how to answer the normally simple questions that I struggle with. 

No matter how you escape your normal reality I believe that it's important to your well-being to do so. I don't mean you should live in a make-believe world all the time just that you should enjoy the occasional desire to discover the impossible while recharging for another day. 


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