I’ve been thinking a lot about escaping lately. In order to use the word escape, you first have to imply that you are trapped, or held against your will. Vacation commercials often tell us we need to “escape,” coupling such marketing with pictures of sandy beaches and pristine sunsets. Everyone there is happy, sipping their exotic drinks and dancing the night away at the hottest clubs. We are told that this indeed is “escaping.”
I’m not buying it. But I do understand the notion of “escaping.” Right now, I’m going through a stressful time in my life. Work is ramping up on a huge project I own at the office (one of those projects that means a lot of dollar signs to a lot of people up top), while some of my most important relationships with the people in my life personally are not exactly going the way I’d like them to. I have bills in my inbox that still need paying, a to do list a mile long, and a car that could really use a tune up (or an overhaul, for that matter). I know, it’s life, it’s nothing special. But by 10 PM, after the world slows down in the Dawson household, I can relate with “escaping.”
Although, I’m not very certain that a week in the tropics would be my answer. Sure, it might buy me some much needed rest and relaxation, but for what? To come back to the piling bills, the relationships in need of mending, the car that needs repairs, the project that inevitably that will be still in my queue?
I remember taking a vacation to Destin, Florida years ago, standing on the beach. I watched a guy, in his mid 40s , sitting in a beach chair and drinking a beer. I remember standing next to him. It was late at night, I was on the beach, smoking a cigar, drinking a beer, watching the waves, being a stupid tourist. I thought I had it made at that moment (or perhaps that was the over indulgence of unfiltered nicotine and beer – I know, bad choices – I’m just being real, here – I was 22). I also remember looking over at the guy, and asking him where he was from. His answer: “here.”
Here? Turns out he just “managed” that section of the beach, making sure the beach chairs were picked up, the sand was raked, and the umbrellas were folded. I really envied that guy for a moment. He’s where everyone else wants to go. He’s there. That guy, that guy doesn’t NEED to escape. I made sure he knew that. I’m not sure he bought it.
I probably simply had a moment of “grass is always greener.” In fact, I think that saying only exists because the majority of us haven’t decided what it really is we want out of life. What would make us say we don’t need to “escape?” I know there’s people out there that have figured it out. Few, but there are some. Maybe they’re on the beach, folding beach chairs for a living. Maybe their running a Dude Ranch in Nevada. Maybe they’re just simply doing what they love and keeping it simple, nothing exotic.
Maybe. I hope I figure out what it is that got them to that place. Until then, I’ll love life, I’ll laugh. I’ll trust God. You can tell me all day, “Grant, happiness is a choice,” but I’m frankly tired of hearing it. I’ve had tons of people in my life tell me if I listen to them, if I attend their small church group, join their ministry, read this book, join this group- whatever – that I’ll figure it out. I don’t think it was meant to work that way.
Truth be told, I am happy, but I just know – I know I could be happier. I want to find that escape, so I never have to look for it again.
Mine’s probably not a sandy beach with an umbrella in my drink. I know it’s not. It’s better than that. Way better than that. Some place great for my family, for my kids, my wife. Me.
When I find it, I’ll send you a postcard.