A Safe Place

Do you have a safe place?

A place you can go to when you can take a break?  Where you can hit the pause button on all your troubles for a little while and pretend everything is peachy-keen?  A place where the people are just happy you’re there and your circumstances are completely irrelevant?

I have several myself which comes in very handy when things go so crazy that it’s either find a (productive) release or go to jail.  I’m a personal fan of not spending any time in the United States penal system so I’m quite glad I have options to release the stress that comes with my life.

The first place I have that escape is books. A thriller, suspense or a comedy – it’s all good.  My choice of books may be dependent on my mood but the underlying reason is always the same – I’m looking for a break from reality; a chance to live someone else’s life for a little while. It’s not necessarily because my life isn’t great (it is, for the most part) but more because I enjoy putting myself in someone else’s shoes for a time.

The top tier of storytellers can spellbind me in a way very few other things can and make me lose myself in their reality which is why I tend to not stray from them. Early Tom Clancy (his last couple not so much, although “Locked On” – which I’m currently in the middle of – is pretty good), John Grisham and Douglas Adams make up the core of my reading material, at least when it comes to fiction, although I do dabble in some lesser-known authors to add some variety and try to find that diamond in the rough.

The second escape I’ve got is card and board games. Whether that’s a round of Munchkin with the kids, a Magic: The Gathering draft up at Spanky’s or a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl games are an excellent interactive outlet to get me out of reality for a while. It’s difficult to focus on the stress of work, all the work that needs done on the house or any other problems that enter the world when you’re trying to decide whether to equip the Tuba of Charm or Staff of Napalm to your Super Munchkin, use your remaining blue mana to bring in an Archaeomancer instead of saving it for a defensive stand or turn tail and run or talk your way out of an encounter with a copper dragon.

The beauty of games – at least the ones I enjoy the most – is that they’re social engagements. A Magic battle is typically a duel and can last 10 minutes; a round of Munchkin is a good hour-long endeavor for a handful of players and entering the crypts of Waterdeep in search of the source of the evil spreading across the city can take an entire afternoon. So whether I’m looking for a quick diversion or a long adventure (or something in-between) I’ve got it.

But much as I enjoy all of those, my favorite place to relieve stress is out on the sand at Volleyball Beach.  Believe it or not it’s not because of the game itself (although that’s pretty damn compelling); it’s because of the people. I’ve written about that before (check out the Volleyball Beach blog) and it’s true – the game itself and the exercise are just bonuses – it’s the people who make the place fun.

There you go – when I need to check out of life for a little bit you may not know the destination but you know where I’m headed.

What’s your escape from reality? Do you grab a coffee and a good book? Fire up the Xbox or Playstation? Or maybe lace up your running shoes and hit the trails? Or maybe it’s something else?

(post image courtesy of everyone’s favorite SomeEcards)

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