National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Escape

jworldShe throws on her headphones and clicks through her iPod to the perfect song, a combination of ethereal voices and lingering synthesized violins. This song, while not on the charts right now, has been a sweet Prozac raindrop from a thundercloud of depression and has come to her rescue more times than not.

She’s studying for finals. Her best friend, a 15-year-old golden lab who lives back home, isn’t doing well health-wise. Her boyfriend lost his job.

While it seems like her world is ending on so many fronts and her brain hurts from cramming as much information into it as possible, the moment she hears the chorus of her favorite song she moves into a world of shimmering white light and feathers for the entirety of its three minutes and 47 seconds. The song is her escape.

Work is a drag. He has smoked far too many cigarettes and drunk one too many cups of coffee. He’s a photographer’s assistant on a music video shoot and, aside from his own malaise of being lowest man on the totem pole, he’s waited like everyone else as the pop diva is five hours late to shoot despite the crew having to arrive before the sun came up to prepare.

He’s been away from his girlfriend for two weeks while working on various projects, and it’s the longest they’ve been apart since beginning to date six months ago. His mom, a shrill woman who wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer – not an artist of any sort – has been calling incessantly to ask when he’d be going back to school.

Just when he feels himself at a boiling point, he steps outside for a moment of solace. Despite his current work ensemble, he jogs half-heartedly around the studio lot and slowly loses himself in the monotony of his jog. The exercise is his escape.

Just back from China a day or three ago – who knows with jet lag – I am tying my skates up at my practice arena. The air is crisp with a hint of dreaming and sweat-soaked bodies hard at work.

While I was performing in the Red country, I was 12 hours ahead of anyone who I wanted to telephone. Aside from my 20-minute “Good Morning” and “Good Night” Skype sessions with my husband, I was relatively alone for two weeks, sparkling my way through China and Taiwan.

In addition to the highs and lows of performing for amazing audiences, I was constantly dealing with real-life things –bills, puppy care, my next upcoming job schedules – while trying to connect to the internet and navigate around blocks on American sites.

Once I returned home, those real-life people didn’t care where I’d been or how sleep deprived I was: Just pay us our money, pick up your dry cleaning, and try not to assassinate the dude who was hitting on your husband while you were gone.

As I stepped on the ice and started skating around, worrying about perfect technique, body line, and if I’d gained too much weight to rotate four times in the air, I released myself from real life, and found my escape. My hobby, my dream, is my escape.

While these stories are collected from my own friends, they very much relate to the rest of the world. When life seems like it’s too much or too hard, there has to be an escape. People don’t always choose the healthiest escapes, but I think the true journey is to find something where you feel strong, beautiful, and comfortable.

The world throws so much negativity at us from all angles every minute of every day, and to be able to find your clarity and peace in a song, an athletic pursuit, or a nip of wine at the end of the day is never a bad thing. Negativity and stress stray us from our paths. They cause us physical and emotional pain. To find that one outlet of security is true bliss.

I challenge you all to take a moment to find something that really makes you feel good, and makes you feel like you’ve escaped, even if for just a moment.