I’m scared. And when I’m scared my desire to escape tries to cut to the front of the line.
I’d happily escape to a quiet little lakeside cottage where I take long morning walks and make money selling hand made notecards. Don’t mind me if I find a second escape route leading to an open air cottage steps away from warm, crystal clear turquoise water.
But those aren’t the only escape routes that come to mind.
How about a big truck demolishing me and my vehicle this week? How about a sudden diagnosis of metastatic uterine cancer? Oh hello again, Passive Death Wishes…ungrateful, bourgeois acquaintances who they may be. They are not welcome here but they knock on my door sometimes, trying to lure me. They are not to be mistaken with suicidal ideation. God no. They’re different. People with PDWs don’t want or plan to kill themselves. We instead seek sick solace in the imagining of our life just coming to a convenient end. This “convenience” (aka death) assures we will be spared all of this…the anxieties, the inevitable sadness of being unloved or left for someone better, the arc of a future filled with conflicts with ex-spouses, the fear of not being able to pull off ones dreams or even pay the bills, the apathy over the state of the world, the drudgery of each day of groceries and expenses and the fucking internet, the apprehension of getting old and needing care that may or may not be available or affordable…Need I go on?
I am a mother of two young children, both of whom I love so much it hurts. I am a woman with many friends who adore and accept me. I am a woman with, admittedly, a pension for negative self talk but with an equal dose of joie de vivre and boatloads of pleasures to fill the metaphorical cup up with. But nonetheless at times, despite deep love and commitment to my children, I simply panic. Being scared, naturally, offers particularly fertile ground for the creeping vines of PDWs to flourish. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that even when I’m calm, grounded and hopeful they flirt with me. They feed off of a critique (seemingly built into my DNA) of humankind for having created an exhausting and over rated dimension. There is beauty, love, and artistry. But humans have also stuffed our closets full of shit that we have to live with and slog through every day. We’ve created a complex world that is only getting more so. And amidst the wealth, well-being, choice, advancements and accessibility of it all grow tangles of needs, wants and stressors. All feeding off each other. And fuck it…sometimes I just want to step away from it all, walk to the edge of the world, and step off into the ether.
More than a few people recently have looked at me like I’m insane when I tell them I’ve resigned without a solid next job waiting for me. They inquire into how old my children are. They cock their heads like I’m the most irresponsible mother on the planet. This has gotten under my skin this week. I’ve gotten lost in the Interwebs looking for jobs. I can’t see the forest for the trees and can’t even see the trees for that matter. How exactly am I going to make enough money each month? How am I going to find a logistically feasible job? Pie in the fucking sky, mocks my own mind. Maybe the romantic hopefulness that I, surprisingly, carry in my pocket alongside the ambivalence is just me being too stupid to realize none of the dreams that got me to this place are actually possible.
The human drive to protect - on so many levels about so many things - is powerful. And the ultimate protection for me is the fantasy of The Great Escape. It has been since I was a young girl. Doesn’t matter how objectively good my childhood was. Or how blessed my life is overall. I was built to escape into fantasy. My fantasies have just taken on darker hues over the years as the chips stacked up. But because I’m scared right now I have to make extra efforts to lean into the light. Lean away from escapism and into The Great Experience instead.
If we don’t embrace life for what it is - all that it is (good, bad, delicious, depleting) - the ultimate futility of human life and the undeniable stress of human living will make worm holes in one’s soul. We are here. Until we aren’t. So while I see you there, PDWs, I’m not opening the window for your tendrils to crawl in. You tie me up and hold me back. I’ll escape instead into fantasies of camping by a wide river, of strong tan hands on my waist, of buying a retirement home in Portugal. As unrealistic as any of those may be today, tomorrow or ever. And for fucks sake I’ll find another job. No need for big trucks to spare me that challenge.