I’m an escape artist. I’m mighty good at running away. Have been ever since I can remember. But hiding is easy when you’re tiny. You can slide under beds, scooch in behind a curtain, hunker in a backseat or behind a bush. You can tiptoe quieter than that mouse at church that everyone talks about, but doesn’t hear. Grown-up hide-outs can be a bit trickier to spot, but oh, the reward when you do.
Escape. The word conjures images of superheroes skimming under a concrete door just before it shuts—images of car chases and jailbreaks. My escapes are a tad less dramatic, but are superior to any film that Marvel makes.
They are tidbits of time that go unnoticed by the untrained brain. They’re the moments spent daydreaming of which I remember naught—moments I temporarily escape my physical limitations and succumb to the nonsensical where forms fail and ice burns. They are the boundless expression on the trail my unconsciousness follows. They are moments filled with beingness, completely empty of thought, yet full of ideas.
Often, the car is my vehicle for accessing not only an unfamiliar country-side, but a magical landscape where time does not exist. Whether pasture-fields whizz by to my left or a red light sways front and center, I get lost in creating images—conversations and events that I want to experience. I am in a sort of trance until a horn honks and snaps me back to the present.
Inoculated by driving, sometimes I miss my exit or drive right past my destination, but the world in my head seems just as real as the post office and the bank. Sometimes I’m so sucked into my escape that I find talking difficult upon my return to this world. So, if my phone or a passenger dings me out and requires my attention, I feel as if I am just waking from a deep sleep and speaking for the first time that day.
The disorientation is temporary and worth the effort. Escaping serves a purpose. It recharges me somehow. After hitting the beach for a few days, I come back invigorated and ready to resume my normal routine. But as I practice mindful living, I realize that escaping doesn’t mean I have to fly across country or drink a bottle of zinfandel in order to skim the outer rings of the universe.
I can both hibernate and escape by the fireplace or on a park bench at the zoo. The only passport needed for a mental escape is one stamped with “Beingness.” The only special shoe needed is one made of soft, stretchable leather—leather that expands and provides room to grow.
I still enjoy ducking into an obscure diner where I’m surrounded by unusual foods or traipsing across a rocky footpath in the metro park to avoid the sidewalk, but it is comforting to know that wherever I am physically located, I am only moments away from a most sublime retreat where I can hide in the silence of my mind.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. Access more at soundcloud.com\lifespeaks.
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