Monday, July 16, 2012

The Merits of Escapism

I don't talk much about my personal life too much on this blog, though I do talk about it way more than I generally intend or realize. Generally it's not my focus here (mainly because I run a separate, infrequently updated personal blog for that sort of thing) but tonight I'm feeling the desire to do so. Mainly because I had an epiphany, a catharsis, a... something today during yoga.

Yes, I do yoga. It adds to my hipsterness, I'm sure. Can't care, won't care - I've never felt better than I have since starting it. I'm less stressed, more relaxed, happier. I feel better about my body. And it's just a ton of fun to do.

I did yoga a bit before now, but never in a professional class with an instructor. I totally love it as I'm learning way more than I could from a book or DVD and just being around other people doing yoga creates a really cool atmosphere. Plus, I feel like I'm getting to know myself better through this both physical and mental practice. I mean, I spent 55 minutes meditating in class today, the longest I'd ever done. It's long in general; most people don't have the time to do that very often. But it was AMAZING. It wasn't easy; the first fifteen minutes are always tough as the mind rebels so much. But once you get into it... wow. Just wow. I don't even know how to describe it. It's just totally brilliant.

I promise this IS related to fandoms in some way, not just me blabbering on about how great meditation is. However, like most things in my life, it's going to take a long, tangent-filled explanation to get there. Which begins... now.

I had this really turbulent friendship that has basically ended over the course of this year and has plagued me with guilt and self-depreciation. I blame myself for what happened even though it wasn't my fault; I'm not blameless but what happened happened and I've finally gotten away from punishing myself for it. Mainly because no matter what, I still believe I acted in the right. The particulars of what happened don't really matter here - it's too much information as it is and it's rather hard to explain (we'll be here for the next three days in order for me to tell the whole story) but it involved a lot of secret-telling, a lot of talking behinds people's backs, and a lot of dangerous assumptions. It's cost me the the person who once was my best friend (more than that really, more like a sister), understanding from several of my other high school friends, and loss of sleep more than once. However, the confidence and self-esteem I've gained from disassociating myself from someone who always made me feel lesser than I am has been priceless. Not that the acquisition of it has been at all easy.

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It's been a lingering issue in my head for the past... well, the past year really, as it was last summer things changed for good. At the time, it was about a boy. In the end, it was about honesty and trust. I realized that in the course of describing what happened repeatedly on my other blog, it sounded like I was describing a romantic break-up. Well, it was a breaking of a friendship, and that shares certain similarities. We expect heartbreak in relationships, but we don't think about it in terms of friendships. Though it's not the same sort of heartbreak, there is certainly a sense of loss and isolation. But for the most part I'd gotten over it; it wasn't bothering me. I had other things to occupy my mind - namely fangirling over various British actors.

And then something in the last month changed. I began thinking about the situation again and feeling guilty. I found myself defensively talking about what happened once again. I thought that a friend of mine was going through a similar issue as I had (nope; turns out his friend was just being emotional and judgmental because he was afraid to tell him that he thought my friend was super hot. Yep, definitely NOT my experiences at all. Or my life :P). And then today in meditation I was sitting there, trying to get Maroon 5's stupid "Payphone" song out of my head (why, Minnesota radio stations, do you feel the need to play this song EVERY MORNING when my alarm goes off?) when my brain finally started unwinding and somehow I ended up at this statement: I obsess over actors and fandoms and things because it allows an escape from the pain that people have caused me in everyday life. I come up with all of these fantastical, wonderful scenarios for my mind to mull over instead of it obsessing over all the terrible things people have done to me and making the pain worse. I pretty much already knew this but for some reason, in light of recent events, it made it easier to see what sort of pain I was escaping from.

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Now in Cultural Studies, they don't take too fondly to escapism. They prefer to deal with problems "head on" and not delude oneself with impossible things instead of dealing with real-life problems. Generally this is in regards to things like poverty, racism, sexism, and their overarching assumption that capitalism totally sucks.

I, however, see escapism in a far different light. Mainly because the issues I'm dealing with do not involve things that affect the world large-scale or at all changeable. I can't change what happened. But I can at least slip away from the residual pain I'm still feeling. I've mulled over and worked out my feelings plenty; now it's time for things to work themselves out on their own accord. The least I can do is give my mind a reprieve, something else to occupy it so it doesn't burn itself out over an issue it may never be able to solve.

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The nice thing about meditation I realized as well, is that it also functions as a sort of escapism, but one that also keeps me firmly rooted in the now, with the focus on the breath and the body.  So, between fangirling and yoga, my brain is doing pretty well. Wait, did I just imply that fangirling is beneficial for my brain? Yes, yes I did.

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While fangirls and critics may say that fandoms are insane and bizarre (some validity to this - Martin Freeman being called a hedgehog will always be bizarre to me. And was anyone around for that period on Tumblr when suddenly all these quotes from Sherlock referred to pancakes? Like what the hell was that?)

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Yes, this. I'm with you, John. I don't understand.

Okay, so fandoms do really weird stuff. But I do weird stuff all the time. I do at least five weird things before breakfast (sorry, a botched Lewis Carroll quote there, but point made). And weird can be good.

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Well, that's definitely weird. Oh God, I'm going to regret my previous remarks...

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