Friday, June 25, 2010

The perfect retreat

Ever so often work and other pressures catch up with me and I find myself wanting to just shut everything out and be able to, well, just not care. Short-term remedies such as retail therapy or a relaxing mani-pedi work only as long as they truly takes your mind off things.  And we no longer live in a world where taking a vacation is simple any more. It involves getting time-off approved, reservations, visas, to name a few. So, what is the simplest way to decompress, at least for a little bit, before you are rudely reminded of whatever it is that is stressing you out? I kind of found a neat solution to the problem around the time when I was going through the stressful experience of trying to find my first job.

I remember waiting for my first phone interview call. I had scheduled it around mid-afternoon and finding myself getting restless and anxious a couple of hours before the call, I tried a lot of things to relax but nothing really worked, until I thought why not watch some TV. I really didn't have much luck there - either it was some gloomy movie with a vamp and a distraught wife on Lifetime or Spongebob Squarepants. I thought a cartoon show was infinitely more preferable to a bunch of bickering women,  so I gave it a shot.  Almost instantly I began to relax as I escaped into a make-believe world with talking sponges and underwater squirrels and harmless villians who cared for nothing more than stealing the crabby patty recipe. Granted it sounds exceedingly juvenile but it did take my mind off the very real problem of a job interview. After that, I scheduled all my phone interviews (and believe me I had plenty) right after Nickeloden aired Spongebob, because it always put me in such a good mood.

Ever since I've resorted to somewhat more mature escapism techniques like books. Everytime I start feeling overwhelmed or overstressed I pick up a book that allows me to escape into a different place - like the Harry Potter series, for example. The harry potter series has great potential for escapism. I mean who wouldn't like to be lead into a world of magic with such a different approach to solving problems - like making objects fly by uttering spells or transforming into someone else using polyjuice potion or simply apparating into thin air? (I'm sorry, but I think it's pretty damn neat!) Of course there's the question of the evil Voldemort, but hey, we all kinda knew that Harry would win in the end, didn't we?

Another favorite is Jane Austen. I find the romanticism of the Jane Austen world irresistible. Where magnificent balls and charming gentlemen and romantic, old-fashioned courtships are what take center stage, and the biggest problem one must face is that of finding one's true love, and almost certainly in the end pretty much everyone ends up happy.  

But my all time fav. though is Gone with the wind. I must've read this book a million times and if I had to pick just one item before being marooned on an island, it would be this book. While the book is riddled with real-world problems, I just love the schemes of Scarlett O'Hara. She makes you believe that you don't always have to accept the situation and that you can find a solution to the problem, with or without others' approval. Her I-give-a-damn attitude is simply inspiring.

So, my dear friends, in escapism lies the perfect retreat. It is often inexpensive, highly effective and lasts longer than a shopping spree. So find a way of letting your mind free and help it escape to a happier place every now and then. Try it. It works.

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