The drive up was pitch black with aggressive winds. I was an hour from home, accenting Mount Evans at two in the morning. This is a tricky drive filled with hairpins that take you from six thousand feet to over fourteen thousand feet. It is the highest paved road in America, and where I chose to escape.
The word escape gets a bad wrap. It’s usually related to running from a problem or a bad situation or implying one isn’t happy in their present situation.
What if we looked at escaping differently. In a positive way that could be good for our mind, body, soul and overall mental state? Small escapes. Short escapes. Scenic escapes. They are like a mini reset for your inner hard drive, a moment just for you.
You should not feel bad or worried about craving an escape, you should embrace it. We all need to escape things from time to time. The 9–5 is hard to come by as the work-life balance has heavily shifted to work. Fifty to sixty-hour weeks are common. Don’t let that imbalance stop you. Change the scale. Escape.
Maybe you’re alone. Sad. Mourning. Depressed. Riddled with daily anxiety. Maybe you’re scared, for your own reasons. Maybe politics have taken a heavy toll on your mind. Or you feel lost. Every single one of us has our own issues we struggle with, and we can never fully understand what each of us feel individually. Whatever issues those may be, take a moment, and escape.
The wind is blowing my car hard as I type this. Alone at fourteen thousand feet so close to the stars, I feel like I could pick them like grapes. Soon the sun will begin to rise. I will take photos of this sunrise as I go on a short hike above timberline. Where the snow still chills. Nothing matters in this moment. I live in this moment as long as possible. Then I get ready for the drive down, with thousand foot drop-offs, above the clouds, and I will live in that moment. Nothing else matters. Lastly, I will stop at a lake, briefly, to see the reflection of the mountains off the glass water. I will reflect myself. I will live in that moment. Forty-five minutes later I will be home before the sun really starts to wake up life. This escape took four hours. It could have been shorter, but my mind needed as much time as possible.
This is an example of an escape. It doesn’t affect work hours. It makes for a long day, but you won’t feel tired, you will feel refreshed. It doesn’t matter where you go or when you go, it matters why you go. This isn’t about escaping a job you love, or a relationship you’re happy in, or all your problems or reality. This is about escaping the things that take the majority of your energy daily, weekly, monthly. This is an escape from notifications and mental-to-do-lists. This is an escape from grief, or guilt, or loss. You can leave those emotions at home, they will be there when you get back. You deserve an escape from those feelings, from time to time.
Go on a drive. A scenic one if you live in an area that provides it. Or just go for a drive. Anywhere. Put on that podcast you keep meaning to listen to. Go on a sunrise or sunset hike. Or walk. Find a park and sit in it. Put your feet in a stream. Find a lake and go to it. Stare at the clouds. Gaze at the stars. Escape.
We all have to ride the roller coaster that is reality every day, every minute. It’s hard to remember to focus on you sometimes. To listen to you. To see if you feel balanced. Our mental health needs to be a priority, it’s getting beaten up every day. Even if you do feel at perfect harmony, your subconscious might need a break. Give it one. Hopefully, it will tip the scales to more life than work. Maybe a new harmony will begin to play.
Doing this monthly, or even bi-weekly if possible, will help keep your mind, body, and soul in check and cleansed. It’s a minor thing you can do to live a more balanced life and to be more mentally healthy. Do you ever unplug then plug back in your internet hookup every few weeks? It seems to refresh and fix any bugs. This is what your escape is. An unplug-wait-thirty-seconds-blow-on-router-plug-back-in escape.
Hopefully, you will see a place you’ve never seen. Have a spiritual connection with nature. Seeing the face of someone crossing the street and offering a smile. Befriending a goose. Seeing your community when you’re the only one on the road. Finding your peak. Living in that moment.
From the peak I sit on now, I take deep breaths. Remind myself to let the wind blow away my thoughts about the past. Choosing a star to give my anxieties to. Watching the sunrise thinking of the hope it brings with it. My feet are attached to the roots of the ground as in this moment, I’ve escaped into nature, into a bit of adventure, to my happy place. Will all of life be waiting for me when the day starts? Sure enough. But I’ve been reset. My momentary escape has me ready to take on the rest of this week with a clear mind and a full heart. (Can’t lose.)
Don’t just “do you,” do things for you. Not superficial things, but escapes into thoughtfulness and clarity. Escape a little, on little escapes, and hold on to every moment, live in every moment.
Find photos of escapes on Instagram at SerialOptimist.