E is for Escape
“The air was cool and the car quiet as it motored through along a flat stretch of gun barrel straight highway which sliced through a desert. Malee sat in the front seat and in the back, beside Thuza, another young lady, Vietnamese she believed, called Thi. The final member of their little get away gang was an extremely bashful Aghan woman named Anoosheh. The car was being driven by a man Malee called Ken. The destination was unknown to Thuza but she was not afraid. Malee had won her confidence, earned her trust by protecting her during their time at the detention centre. She knew for certain that she would not have escaped the heinous intentions of some of the male inmates.” From Chapter 10, Ashmore Grief
When life becomes a chore, a debilitating bore or when it throws more challenges at us than we can handle we want to flee. We want to run away from the unpleasantness and drudgery, and escape. Fiction is a great escape. When I read a good novel, I get lost in other people’s problems, and temporarily forget my own. If the author has done their job well, then I care about the characters they have created: I worry about them, I fear for them, I laugh and cry with them. I want to know that they will be all right. I desperately want their troubles to end, their problems to be resolved, their fears to be allayed. I hunger for the happy ending, the fairy tale because it reassures me that love can indeed conquer all. It’s possible.
The delusion is powerful: strong enough to propel us through misery or carry us through tragedy. We must have hope. We must believe.
The reality is that our lives are characterized by suffering, and no matter what form of escapism we choose, or how intensely we will and wish for it to be otherwise, it doesn't change the fact that for most of us our lives are not as we want them to be. Whatever tools we use to anesthetize ourselves; drugs, alcohol, work, books, movies, video gaming, pornography, or sex, are ultimately mere band-aids. We stagger from one disaster to another, holding on to hope and the ephemeral joy which fills the spaces in between.
In my novel, Thuza fled the frying pan of Christmas Island Detention Centre into an unknown fire, on the strength of a promise that her life would be better. Sometimes there is no escape.
What is your favourite form of escapism?