There has been lots of turmoil in our world over the past several years. It’s wide ranging from world politics all the way down to our daily lives. I do not care what side of what fence you are on, things have been challenging to say the least. But, I am not here to talk about those downers. Instead, I would like to talk about human’s greatest capability; imagination. I believe we are the only creature that can imagine and pretend. I also believe it is times like this when we feel overwhelmed by such turmoil that it is acceptable and should be encouraged to escape into another reality. These alternate places we escape to not only help us to relax, but also help us to process.
I don’t care how serious you think you are, everyone has played pretend or fantasized. Our earliest memories are filled with childhood games and adventures. Come on admit it, you’ve played “The Floor is Lava!” We’ve been princesses, knights, war heroes, doctors, police, and space explorers. We’ve climbed to the highest peaks of Middle Earth, made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, done emergency surgery on our dogs, baked a feast for the king, and sped through the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile. These were the ways we have played, but they are also the ways we have explored ourselves. We have learned who we are, even from that first box we crawled into.
As adults (or adult-like) we still use our imaginations and we still play pretend. We still do so for entertainment, but we also escape into these other realms to cope. Everyone has had to deal with upheaval in their lives. Those trials have left us confused, beaten, and exhausted. There are several ways we deal with these events. One way is to escape into a book, movie, TV series, or hobby. This escapism allows us to recharge. Through our favorite protagonist we are able to find inspiration and the strength to carry on. A sub-plot possibly gives us an idea how to deal with a problem.
Escapism allows us to ask questions that normally are inappropriate to discuss in public. I think one of the best examples of this is Battlestar Galactica (2004). It was great to instantly jump from star to star with FTL (Fast Than Light) and it was exhilarating taking down Cylons. The show did so much more. We all hate the idea of torture, but we were shown the possibilities of desperate need to get information. The actors gave us a taste of being under the strain of constant combat and made us think of what real soldiers are up against. There are also the less social impacting discussions. How many of you can thank “50 Shades of Grey” for giving you new ways to use your Catwoman outfit and Indiana Jones whip? Not really a topic you can bring up at the dinner table, but thanks to escaping in this book you now know.
The one warning about escaping to a better reality, is knowing when to return. Plain and simple we all have to come back to this reality and we have to do what is necessary. Not coming back will ruin your life. Just know when you are in this reality and you are facing your challenges Gandalf, Catwoman, and Iron Man are right there and they’ve got your back.
So, boys and girls it’s alright to dream and escape! Go dust off your old Transformers and run them around on your desk. Draw fake sutures on your dog’s belly. You will feel better and you just might figure out some answers to your challenges. At the very least you will have some fun.
If you would like to read more of my work, please visit JeffSherwood.co