I spend a lot of intentional time in the practice of being present. Through martial arts, in my relationships, and by staying abreast of current events in the news. I do this because I'm pretty keen on reality. I want to know what's really happening. Not what version filters through the lens of my traumas and insecurities, or what I assume is happening, or what someone else wants me to think is happening, but what actually is. I want to know and understand my internal landscape as well as my local communities and the broader world beyond.
Getting in touch with what's happening internally keeps me sane and feeling grounded. We are all offered near-non-stop messaging everywhere we go in modern society, and some of those messages are unhealthy or harmful. Some of those messages come from companies that want us to buy their products and services. Some of those messages are the expression of other people's trauma. No matter their form or origin, the messages themselves are so ubiquitous we don't even notice when some cling to us as we go about the business of our daily lives.
Taking some time to peer underneath all the layers of Extra is one way I get to know the me-ist me. As I identify what has attached itself to me I can examine it, acknowledge how it served me, and decided whether I need to keep that particular piece anymore. Then I can shed the unhelpful layers I picked up along the way and in their place I can grow new practices that promote my health, peace, and wellbeing in healthy and sustainable ways.
Keeping up with the world and looking under all its layers enables me to see how we got to where we are now and identify my role in perpetuating or changing aspects of it. I can't work against racism and misogyny if I don't know where it comes from or how it manifests. And that's very important work. It's critical for each of us to understand where those toxins seep through the cracks of our daily lives and lovingly plug the holes and fill the gaps to counteract the poison.
Another important practice is checking-out from time to time. This is something I frequently forget and struggle the most to make time for. Modern life is busy busy and full full. It's healing to go slow slow and rejuvenating to visit empty empty. It’s also nice to vacation from reality by visiting a fantasy world, like reading a good book or watching a good movie. It's important to have a balance, of course. Spending more time in Fantasy Land than you spend engaging in your real life might be a sign that something in your reality needs to shift.
Escaping from the real world to avoid processing unpleasant emotions or experiences is only ever a short-term strategy. No matter how long you delay, you will have to deal with whatever life throws at you eventually. And running from those things usually doesn't make them easier to sift through later. Sometimes allowing time and space gives you the chance to grow the skills or the spirit you need to confront the darkest of the demons that dwell in your dungeon. Other times it only serves to let it grow and fester into a tangled briar patch of pain and hurt.
Ultimately, no matter how much time you spend in an alternate reality or what your reasons are for escaping, you'll probably make it just fine as long as you can still tell the difference between when you're engaging reality and when you're indulging in fantasy. There are some companies that would like to profit from blurring those lines. A tech company called Pulse9 created virtual avatars using AI technology to form an 11-member K-pop called Eternity. And we've probably all heard of the "Metaverse" by now.
I don't want to be fully immersed in my entertainment or social media. I'd like to be transported through my imagination, but I still want to feel the earth beneath my feet while I'm standing. Even some of the fantasy places I like to visit can be too much like reality sometimes. I had to take a break after watching the first couple episodes of The Expanse. The future depicted in that series is a very plausible future reality for humanity, complete with all the inequality, inequity, and bigotry present in our current systems and institutions. I enjoyed both the TV series and the book series immensely, but it didn't count as an escape.
The same was true when I tried to watch The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It takes place in a more or less contemporary timeframe, but there are witches and magic layered on top. Unfortunately the story also includes some horrific misogyny in the halls of witchy power. There’s plenty of gross patriarchy bullshit in the real world, I don't need it in my fantasy as well. Sometimes I just want a story where femm humans exist and they have autonomy and agency that isn't under constant threat from the patriarchy or whatever other shitty problematic thing that assaults me every day in the real world.
This week I wanted to escape to the Land of Holiday Spirit. Sunday night I was already over the idea of work before the week even started. All I wanted to do was spend this week sewing, crafting, baking, watching Xmas movies, wrapping presents, and listening to Xmas audiobooks and Xmas music. I had deadlines so I worked anyway, but I didn't want to. I am fortunate enough to be able to take the next couple weeks away from work so I can swim in whatever waters my imagination creates. Then I can check back in to the real world a little more rested.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.