Escapism

Being guilty or blessed of engaging in this theoretical activity, I have found it indispensable in dealing with certain aspects of my life thus far. When my parents separated and when my social life at school seemed dull, I lost myself in fairy tales, mythology, and fantasy novels. When I have separated with anyone I had loved deeply and romantically in my life, I resorted to finding distractions in other men by engaging in the nightlife of the city where I was currently residing.  When I have experience a certain ennui with life based on the excitement of where I’ve previously been or what I’ve previously done, I may resort to the use of tobacco or alcohol or spontaneous decision-making to makeup for the dry spell of passionate living. Escapism is not a concept limited to the young person full of energy and life, but I see its effects in even the most elderly and happily fulfilled of individuals.

Due to the sadness and suffering that a mortal life brings, humans are very good at finding ways to escape their circumstances, whether temporarily or permanently. The psychological need to escape is rooted in a sense that perhaps humans were not meant to live in such a topsy-turvy world, but rather were meant to be somewhere better where they would not experience such frustrations. We are always dreaming of utopia, we are always dissatisfied by our current conditions, and yet we have this coping mechanism that allows us to face or minimally deal with reality. The most interesting thing about it is that all humans experience contains some form of escapism in their lives. I do not think that it is necessarily a need for temporary forgetfulness, but can also be a search for strength in the trials of another character and for alternative perspective on their current bored or aggravated circumstances. Perhaps this is the source of our drive to improve the real world and drive Progress apace through our frustrations and dissatisfaction with so crude an environment for the potential of the human mind.

The real question that arises here is whether escapism is a useful tool or a harmful remedy for life’s problems. Which escapist means worsen the human character and which improve its outlook to face the current difficulties? Not all escapist mechanisms are purely pleasure-driven, but some may include aspects of intellectual improvement and character building. We are shaped by what we read, what we see, and what we do in our escapist creations. Anyone who chooses to remain in their escapist creations is not employing the mechanism properly. Human nature, in this sense, has a dual nature, confined neither to things as they are or to things as they ought to be. We lose our humanity when we become solely actors and not dreamers and vice versa. This binary of escapism/reality can be used to cultivate human development if tempered by intellect, reason, and thymos.

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