One the arguments against any form of recreational drug use (is drug use to aid art considered recreational if you intend to make money from said art?) is that we shouldn't be putting chemicals into our system. Well, that pretty much gets smashed apart with a variety of single words; Starbucks, Marlboro, Budweisser, McDonalds, Nestle...
The recourse of the clean living advocate is then this one; we shouldn't be putting those into our bodies either (I'd agree with them on everything but Nestle... there are far better ways to consume caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and fatty proteins, but you get the point). Instead we should be doing exercise and eat well and... blah, blah, blah.
Yeah, yeah... our bodies are temples and we should treat them accordingly. That's all well and good, but it overlooks one fundamental part of human existence. It is a part that, without, we wouldn't be what we define as 'human'; our minds.
Not just our brains. Not the physical, squishy pink bit but the other bit, the... indescribable bit. The bit that gazes at the stars and contemplates the future. Our conciousness, subconsciousness, imagination... all of that rolled into one bizarre and unfathomable ball; the human psyche.
This psyche needs tending to perhaps even more than the body does. Mental illness very often leads to physical decline. Stress, depression, anxiety all lead to a running down of a body, at the very least. To stave off mental illness, the needs of the mind must be met.
For one reason or another, the human mind hopes for more than it has. It hopes for a bigger house, for someone to love and love it in return, it hopes for chocolate cake and peace, for adventure and discovery, it hopes for something more than it currently has in so many strange ways. In a word; it fantasises.
The mind wants and needs an escape from what it and its body currently have. Is this a left over from the evolutionary drive to survive? If you want something better than what you have you'll strive to get it and this will help you, your family and (all importantly) your genes stay in existence. Is it a hiccough in our design? Could a combination of two things that have worked themselves into our design have created a third, superfluous thing?
Who cares? It's there and we have to deal with it. Whether we like it or not; escapism (the mental fulfilment of absurd fantasies) is essential to our mental well-being. If intellectual stimulation is food for the mind, then escapism is its water. Both are needed to stay fit and well.
Everyone has at least one escape route. I've got a bucket of them; reading, watching, listening, climbing, cycling (in better weather), writing... sometimes I can't even be bothered writing anything down and I just day dream. I can day dream for hours. Then of course, there's the chemicals; some less legal than others.
Whether its a long running soap opera, another Wheel of Time book, long distance running or pot; they're all forms of escapism (as well as other things; social lubricant, exercise, intellectual stimulation, a cure for insomnia... which is which). They're all a way to have a momentary respite from your life. From the doubts, the difficulties, the mundanities. They're a way to switch off and look at or be a part of something else, not necessarily something bigger and better, just something different.
Show me a person who doesn't use a form of escapism and I'll show you a corpse. We all indulge in escapism now and then (though I'd wager that it's at least daily). As long as it is not over used, any form of escapism is viable. It's having too much (as always) of anything that is the problem; after all, drinking too much water will quite literally drown your brain.
And now the quibble; what makes vegging in front of Pirates of the Caribbean (a fine, fine film but not exactly thought provoking stuff) to exercise escapism any different from switching your mind off during a session of aerobics or jogging (tell me your brain doesn't wander when doing such mindless activities)? That yoga and jogging are also good for the body? So what? You're coming back to the body being more important once again. Sometimes, ney quite often the mind must come first and foremost.
Oh, but of course jogging makes you feel really good and helps you clear your mind so everyone should do it. Uhuh? One man's meat is another man's poison. The best form of escapism for one person might not be what the next person needs. And who is anyone to tell another what their meat is and what their poison is? What makes your release button any better than mine? Surely, you wouldn't tell a person they should prefer vanilla to strawberry, just because you do? Or that they should enjoy Fable more than Deus Ex? Star Wars over Star Trek (it may shock you, but you can enjoy both equally)?
Whichever route you take doesn't matter though, they all essentially do the same thing; all help you t go to another world, another place or time, all within the confines of your own mind.. Just like drugs. And just like drugs; moderation must be practised, whether it's reading, playing computer games, taking to the treadmill or mushrooms. Over do it and you'll make yourself ill. Yes, even reading too much, and neglecting other parts of your existence, is bad for you... though admittedly it's a lot harder to read yourself sick than it is to run yourself sick.
Barber Queue - Time was when I needed a hair cut, I'd go at noon on a weekday, when the barber's is typically empty. One of the perks of being unemployed. But these days ...