I just returned home from a glorious week in Costa Rica celebrating the marriage of two de facto family members. After a week with no internet, tv, phone, hot water, subways or crowds of people, the thought of heading back to New York City was slightly daunting. Though it's Christmas in NYC, which is always my favorite time of year in the City, the thought of endless supplies of people with large shopping bags and rain-soaked umbrellas made me cringe.
In an effort to dwell on my misery upon my return, I listened to Ray Lamantagne's sing his lyrics: "Just gotta get out of New York City, need a place where I can feel free, Gotta get out of NYC, NYC is killing me."
I wasn't even back yet, and NYC was already killing me, Sing it Ray.
I listened to the song approximately 26 times on repeat until I felt satisfactorily miserable. (There's something slightly sick about listening to music that you know will make you sad, but on long travel days, I love to tap into that subtle sadness that I would ordinarily shake off. It's fun to conduct an individual psychological study on how music can affect my mood or bring back particular memories.) Once I was content with how much I dreaded my return, I switched back to my chanting beats to reharness some positive energy.
Ultimately, I think my dread for the bustle of the City was the result of a delusional paradigm. I view vacations, and even weekends, as an Escape. And as such, these days away provide me an opportunity to escape from the routines of life, to avoid the distractions on the internet, and to spend time exploring my own creativity--a time where I can be fully be present, free from distractions, and connect with family and friends who are physically present without worrying about those friends and family who may await my interaction through technological means. By disconnecting from constant communication, I am able to reconnect with those around me, and, most importantly, reconnect with myself. While this, in theory, sounds healthy (that is removing yourself from places to reconnect), the delusion permeates this idea in two different ways: (1) that I must physically remove myself from my normal geographic location to reconnect, and (2) what I view as an escape should actually be my everyday reality.
I need to shift how I view "escape." Perhaps, instead of escaping elsewhere I merely need to return inward--to return to my innermost quiet still place. A return to simplicity and presence and authentic interaction. After all, that's why we like vacations. And I can create this return right here in the comforts of my apartment in the heart of New York City. This a slightly unfortunate realization because it means that I am responsible for creating my own relaxation and vacation-esque calm. It also means I shouldn't wait for vacations or weekends to recenter.
I guess for now, I'll be content on knowing that I have free roundtrip ticket to a place of calm within myself that I can access twenty-four hours a day. And the more I can escape to this place, the more it can become an everyday reality. Now, if I only could access some Costa Rican sun during these personal vacations inward.