Ever wonder what it would be like to just get in the car and start driving – no destination, no timetable, no obligations or expectations? I think everyone has had a fleeting fantasy of escaping routine life, if only for a few days. We have become so accustomed to constant movement in our lives. We run from one obligation to another, get to work, gobble down lunch in record time, squeeze in a work-out when possible, fill every waking hour with all types of online exploration and cram our brains full, full, full of facts, music, video, conversations, tweets, posts, blogs. It’s no wonder many of us are absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. The idea of leaving it all behind is so tempting at times.
I’m lucky enough to have a spot I can escape to and do so regularly. When I’m there, life is very different. Gravel roads, no TV, limited facilities and no Internet. Some wonder what on earth we ‘do’ there. Well, that’s just it. We have a very strenuous activity. We work very, very hard at doing nothing. Hard work you say? Yes, it actually is.
We’ve forgotten what silence sounds like. It usually takes about a week in this environment for me to remember how to listen. Sometimes I find myself just sitting by the window, looking out into the mixed forest not at anything in particular. I am roused by the call of a thrush or the timid movements of a doe through the thick underbrush. All the while, I am listening to – well, nothing really. I’ve rediscovered what wind sounds like. What a meditation it is to simply enjoy the sound of the wind in the leaves. In this hidden-away place, the passing of a car is something we talk about at supper!
Everyone can have an ‘escape’. It doesn’t have to involve hours in the car or a plane trip. Sometimes, the best time-outs happen at home. A cozy chair by the fire is very helpful to get you started. While you’re busy doing ‘nothing’, take a look at some of these great library books. No time: stress and the crisis of modern life by Heather Menzies, Why zebras don’t get ulcers: the acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases and coping by Robert Sapolsky and for a funny look at life Relax – you may only have a few minutes left: using the power of humor to overcome stress in your life and work.
Sue Kline is the Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the ORL.