We travel not to escape life, but so life doesn’t escape us. – Unknown
The alarm sounds as I open one bleary eye, then the other. It doesn’t matter; I see nothing. My hands search the darkness for the source of this awful beeping as I make a mental note to change the tone to ‘Tubular Bells Circa 1990,’ or ‘Refreshing Zen Chimes for Instant Enlightenment.’
It cannot be morning! Apart from it is. It is 7 A.M. and it feels more like 4 A.M. There isn’t a single, solitary streak of light in the sky that looks even akin to day break. Even the birds are still bunkered down in their treehouse homes.
I cannot bear it a moment longer. It’s like I’ve been cursed. Like Princess Poppety, I just can’t sit still.
I get like this—one day I can be very content, and the next I’ll wake up, nerves jangling, craving to shatter the chains that bind me. I’m utterly consumed with fantasies of far flung places. I yearn to explore. I am aroused by the exotic, by the unknown, by everything enchanting and erotic.
Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the 80’s when Billy Ocean was singing ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ that whenever I get bored or tired or disillusioned by life, I book a ticket, throw on a backpack, and go.
Our Desire to Escape
I get a thrill from throwing everything up in the air and seeing what sticks. It’s like pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del on life.
Perhaps it’s the promise of the New Year and a new start, or the sudden awareness of time passing us by that jump starts out the escape engine and leaves us hunting for the exit more than ever with the onset of winter.
But while most of us entertain the idea of getting away and carefully craft our Christmas wishes around chasing the sun, few of us do it.
We become entangled in the reality of our responsibility and a symphony of what ifs. We get stuck. Unable to erase ideas of escape, we struggle to feel content.
Despite what Nike says, we grow up encouraged to stick things out. We’re taught to see the world as an unstable, frightening place, so it’s better to play it safe! If we quit or take time out to take stock, we’re subjected to quitter-bashing and berated for looking for a new way to live.
People see it as something negative—that our desire to escape is dire and not without consequence. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if more of us just did it.
Broadening Our Horizons
In the end, we only regret the chance we didn’t take. – Unknown
Escaping our everyday lives to travel is just about broadening horizons, so we can see beyond what we already know.
The truth is quitting doesn’t make you unqualified to play the game of life. Sometimes it can lead you to the treasure. There are times when walking away pays. So here are my top tips on how to become an expert escape artist.
1. Don't wait. Just do it.
When you first get the niggling feeling you need to move or change something, do it before your rational brain kicks in—otherwise you’ll just get confused.
2. Don't search for the magic answer.
There isn’t one. Treat it all as experience. Each one will pave the way for the next, and you’ll soon see you’re always exactly where you need to be.
3. Forget having a plan.
We can never know what will happen. Getting away means giving up the structures that usually keep you contained. Try winging it for a bit and you’ll be surprised at the things and people that come your way. Just book a ticket and let the rest unfold.
Each destination will draw out different qualities in you, provide you with different experiences, and show you the depth of your strength and the dimensions of your soul.
4. Follow your heart.
Do the things that make you feel happy and alive. Follow your dreams and desires. This is the time to tune into your heart and let it rule your head. If something doesn’t feel right, even if you don’t understand why—don’t do it!
5. Try new things.
Away from home, an abundance of new experiences and opportunities will be waiting for you—embrace them.
6. Let go of the life you knew.
Don’t be afraid of letting go of the life you knew. It will be waiting for you when you return. Humans are made to evolve, so do not hesitate to move on and explore who you are outside of the box.
7. Look for alternative ways of doing things.
No money to travel? No problem!There are plenty of options to have experiences away from the usual humdrum of everyday life. Check out websites like Workaway, WWoof, Help X,and Yoga Trade—they regularly post out work exchange opportunities.
Often, food and lodgings are offered for an agreed amount of hours in exchange. You’ll get to meet people, be part of an experience, and learn new skills!
Make friends—get to know people, their strengths, and their dreams… you never know when your paths may cross again or how you could help one another in the future.
Escaping to Renew or Love of Live
What does escape give us?It shows us ourselves. It creates space in our lives to consider and choose. Our love of life renews. We get to understand ourselves beyond the things that usually shape us. It gives us the chance, the opportunity, to redefine who we are.
Then we can take these learnings back into our everyday (because holiday every day is no holiday at all), which we appreciate all the more for our experiences on that foreign shore.
One thing is for certain; we will never regret going off to explore.