Escape and Return

I have used the word “escape” several times already in this young blog. It begs the question, escape from what? We are often said to “escape” from something terrible – the jaws of death, prison, bad relationships, a hated job, Citi Field. I suppose some people take to the trails to get away from such bad things. But not me, not so far anyway. I flee less dramatic afflictions, and they vary from hike to hike.

I escaped last week for a few hours to the Devil’s Den. The torments I fled were very minor:

  1. A fidgety body and mind.
  2. The tyranny of my ‘to do’ list.
  3. Insistent media – Read this, it’s important! Listen up, you don’t want to miss this!
  4. The drone of a wood chipper in a neighbor’s yard.
  5. Dense, hurtling, aggressive traffic.

I didn’t discover that last torment until I was already escaping.

DSCN5853With hiking, of course, you are always escaping to something as well. Even an overcast March day with a nor’easter approaching amply rewarded my flight:

– Lunch among gnarly pines on a rocky ledge.

– Listening carefully on another ledge to the varied sounds of the strengthening wind – one noise in the pine needles just above me, another from slopes farther away, yet another …

– Some ideas for my next article for The Hour.

Above all, I returned home with a better focus and all-round frame of mind, better able to deal with droning chippers and frantic traffic.

And that is the thing about my escapes. They are temporary. There is always the return, and it is nearly always looked forward to. For the comforts of home, of course, but also paradoxically for some of the  very things that drove the escape in the first place.

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