I think we’re mostly in agreement that 2021 has been really hard
When I was younger, I thought escapism meant that you were irresponsibly avoiding important parts of life. After a while, I learned that occasional escapism was a fine stress reliever, as long as it was temporary and contained. I kept myself too busy for too many years to really use it much anyway.
Then social media became the consuming force that it is today and I started to notice I was developing a subconscious habit of escaping into slivers of other people’s lives. Pinterest was particularly enticing this way. I decided to pull back on it because it left me feeling more empty than relieved.
And then the pandemic came on and changed all the things it changed. I did my best to adapt and be resilient and self-care and care about others and carry on and take care and all the things. And then the pandemic stretched past a year and things weren’t much different. They were and they weren’t. Catastrophes kept mounting. An extra fatigue set in. Then emotional overwhelm. Then existential crises.
I started to realize that if I didn’t find a way to let my mind escape reality on a regular basis, I wasn’t going to be much good in reality. I was in such a constant state of overwhelm that doing menial household tasks was a relief. Even work became a blessed distraction from the news.
And then I started watching renovation and remodel shows. It was mostly triggered by the launch of the Magnolia network and all the past seasons of Fixer Upper available to binge-watch. But then I discovered For the Love of Kitchens, and Inn the Works, and ReMotel, and then Cheap Old Houses launched on HGTV. I started watching an episode every night in bed before I went to sleep. *Note: I have never been the person who watches TV in bed on their phone before they go to sleep.
Surprise: I didn’t notice a decrease in my sleep quality. I didn’t notice a slide in my responsibilities in adult life. I didn’t notice an urge to watch remodel shows during the workday. I just noticed a small increase in my joy, my creative thoughts, and my general feeling that good things still happen.
I started calling remodel shows my candy. They weren’t real life, but they were sweet. They weren’t showing the whole story, but they were showing part of it. They weren’t all-consuming, but they offered a temporary escape. And that reminded me that I’m worth being delighted. There is enchantment in the real world. People do good things. Lovely projects get finished and enjoyed.
I found a new side of my worth in this escapism. One that doesn’t need to be well-informed or responsible or empathetic to suffering. It’s just there to enjoy the good parts of life. To be lit up and inspired. To see beauty and appreciate it. To keep alive the memories of the best times. To believe that those are still possible.