Have you ever experienced a time where you haven’t been to a place that you like? Or enjoy an experience that you used to find exciting? Where you haven’t been somewhere for such a long period of time that when you had the chance to revisit, the sense of familiarity and strangeness collides violently and creates an overwhelming sense of joy and appreciation?
That was what I experienced last night when I went on a long-overdue dinner and movie date with my wife. The more I think about it, it’s probably been almost a year since we went out to the movies!
It just blew my mind that I haven’t been to the cinema for almost a year now. This place where we once created so many fond memories, has all of a sudden became so unfamiliar and distant. You just simply don’t know how much you take things for granted until you finally realise you don’t have it. The moment I stepped foot in the cinema, it felt like I experienced the place from a totally new perspective and it made me realise how lucky I am to visit this place once again. The dimmed yellow tint of the ambient lighting together with the scent of buttered popcorn lingering in the air made me reminisce about the past so vividly. It’s a strange feeling to experience something that is incredibly familiar and yet you have enough separation from it that it also feels novel.
This simple date night perfectly encapsulates what I believe is my recipe for a mini escape. I use the word escape because it kind of feels like I’m running away from something, running away from the nonsense and endless noise in the world, running away from obsessively scrolling through headlines and replying to emails on my phone after work, running away from the pressure that tells me to work, produce results and do more. It’s running away from this constant reminder to perform for society.
Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about my work and always my mission to bring you guys closer to what we doing here in the pharmacy. In fact, I kind of love the pressure and its intensity. Pressure keeps us on the right trajectory to an incredible outcome. Even though I love work, the only way that I can keep going and keep crushing is by pulling away and running away from everything – just for a while.
Escape is what I call one of the most important essences of longevity. It is a form of rewiring your mind, body, and soul and let you recalibrate your mindset to allow you truly appreciate what’s in front of you.
Our everyday life is so mundane and orderly that we often get caught up living for the future rather than in the moment. As months go by, our to-do list gets inflated exponentially despite our best intentions for it to serve us. It often ends up with unimportant things that we feel obligated to get done – because it’s on our list. Scheduling in an “escape” regularly into our chaotic lives allows us to clear the shrubs in our minds and not let our routine pull us in all directions. Instead, it points us in one direction with a clear sense of priority.
In my opinion, an “escape” does not necessarily mean traveling to a new country or doing exotic things. It is a time you have entirely to yourself or shared with loved ones. It is a time where outside disturbance means nothing to you and does not stand a chance to affect your mind in any way. It is simply a time for you to escape and be yourself and you focus nothing but yourself.
So let me tell you my ingredients for a real escape:
#1: An element of unplanned adventure
My life is tightly planned, I’ve got an infant and I work like I’m working 3 jobs. I’ve got a to-do list every day of the week and try to cram everything in the 17 hours that I’m awake, focusing on those tasks down to the minute is tough.
Every day I’m are bounded by my chores and obligations, all my decisions including what to eat are in some way restricted by my expectations. This kind of lifestyle makes it ever so important for me to have an element of suspense or unplanned adventure where we don’t pre-contemplate or plan out our escape. But rather let our intuition take over and just go with the flow without the need to worry whether our decision produces the best outcome. Sometimes we just need to let go of our expectations and live in the moment. To me, an unplanned escape is when I can point to a movie in the cinema, where I have no idea what it is about, and just simply buy a ticket and a bag of popcorn. To me, an unplanned escape is also when I can point over the mountain and decide I want to hike to it. Somehow these unplanned adventures are for some reason incredibly restorative and satisfying to me.
#2: An element of appreciation
This is the number one foundation ingredient. To me, the best escape happens in nature, whether it is in the mountains, forests, or regional parks. Any part of nature will do. I have found escape in nature from walking to the lookout point at the top of Cliff Road to walking somewhere in the Waitakere ranges. Nature is the perfect place to escape. Nature is like a filter, blocking out the busyness and noise. There’s nothing busy happening in nature. Everything just looks like what it should be with no enhancement. There are no middle ground or grey areas in nature there’s always an ecosystem that manifests itself in the extremes. It is extremely quiet and peaceful, extremely tall mountains, extremely steep hills, extremely clear water, and extremely green trees.
#3 An element of simplicity
There is something special about living a simple life. Having a simple meal, using simple local ingredients, pair it with a simple glass of red, and have long conversations with my wife about big things and little things. Talking and dreaming about the future and connecting to the past is what I consider a simple but yet incredibly satisfying escape. These simplistic things do something to my brain in a good way and I can’t really find better words to describe it than the fact that it makes me feel good. For me, simplicity forced my mind to focus on the present and escape any pressure and stress of the things that I need to do and accomplish at great speed.
Let me remind you that it doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. Doing anything you love that could put your mind at ease has the same effect. It simply filters the world away from you and gives you space to rethink and restore the direction for your work life and reinvigorate the relationship with your family. So next time when your chest is tight and your brain is buzzing with stress maybe is time for an escape.
To your next escape,