You can escape — if only for one night — and find nature, wilderness, a bit of peace and then go back to your normal life with a slightly shifted perspective.
This is travel writer Alastair Humphries on his idea of the “microadventure”.
The idea is that life-enhancing travel need not require huge tracts of time or planning; that you can in fact sleep beneath the stars on weekends and be ready for work again on Monday.
Naturally, at New Escapologist we prefer a more full-time adventure, but taking the opportunity to enrich your life in this small and manageable way is fairly irresistible no matter what your daily experience looks like.
Besides, you can always enjoy a microadventure without being a slave to the weekend. Look at Alastair’s out-of-office message:
Sorry — the sun is shining so I’ve gone to sleep on a hill.
Imagine how beautiful our cities would be with no cars in them. The clean air. The safe streets. The polite sounds of conversation and twittering birds instead of the roar of traffic.
Imagine the convenience and cost efficiency of teeny little downtown houses instead of big ones further out of town. No commutes. No massive mortgages or heating bills. Proximity to all the cool bars, cinemas, universities, libraries and shops.
Possible solution? Replace parking spaces with neat minimalist homes.
Just try not to think about the idea of metered housing.
I’ve been doing my best to promote the New Escapologist book.
Marketing always makes me feel uncomfortable, partly for ethical reasons but mainly because I’d rather be doing something else, like reading P.G. Woodhouse books in my gently-rocking my hammock. That’s what summer is for.
Whatever the reason, even just politely inviting people to buy my stuff or asking them to tell others about it really takes something out of me. I largely enjoy tabling at book fairs, for instance, proudly representing New Escapologist and signing copies for friendly people. But even this level of promotion inevitably leaves me exhausted and spending the whole of the following week in a vegetative, convalescent state.
This puts me in mind of an article I wrote last year for a marketing blog. I met the nice lady who runs the blog at (of all places) the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. I think she was looking for someone who wasn’t a natural marketeer but somehow muddled through.
I said I’d do it. No cash offered, of course, but I thought I’d win some of their readers over and make a few naughty jokes about marketing people (most of which, to their credit, made the edit).
In the piece, I express my aversion to marketing, explain how we sell New Escapologist, and also re-tell the magazine’s origin story. Here it is:
…in the form of a berry. Which, when ripe, is picked by hand and processed, resulting in a green bean that is shipped, roasted, and brewed for your enjoyment.
We’ve previously discussed the insidious evil of coffee pods. On the other end of the spectrum is the modern coffee house. Not the ubiquitous green mermaid kind, but rather the independently-owned house of craft extraction.
I visited one such place yesterday – appropriately named Hey Happy – a few blocks from where I live. Small, minimalist, meticulous, and slow. Slow, as in each coffee is made from scratch. They specialize in the pour-over method. Both the freshly ground coffee and the water are measured on a digital scale throughout a laborious pouring ritual. It takes a couple of minutes, during which time the server actually converses with you…about that specific coffee, the roaster, or the comparative merits of different brewing methods.
Then you sit down to enjoy your beverage. If you’re with someone, you can solve the world’s problems, conspire to create new ones, or plot your escape…all time-honoured traditions in coffee houses. If you’re solo, you might settle into a seat with good sight lines to observe the ebb and flow of life.
The point is that you take time to stop and enjoy a craft product, instead of just grabbing a paper cup of commercial-grade, crappy-tasting stimulant that you’ll drain while scurrying back to your cubicle.
Coffee is leisure, but only if you choose to see it that way.
After you’ve enjoyed your next cup of leisure, help fund the forthcoming Escapology book. Pre-order a copy today.
Escape is thrilling: the wind rushing through your hair as you perambulate as quickly as possible–resisting the temptation to look back to see if they’ve found your note yet.
It can be an unbeatable high. It can be the most reasonable, economical and practical course of action too.
Not that you’d necessarily know it. We’re not generally encouraged to see commitments to things like work or shopping as the obvious traps they are and as such escapable. British culture instead promotes endurance, to grin and bear it no matter how bored or miserable you are. American culture encourages fight over flight, to go down with all guns blazing.
There aren’t enough people saying “Sod this. I’m getting out of here. Pass me the good tunnelling spoon.”
Those who give up and walk out are too often considered cowardly, uncommitted or, oh dear, “a quitter”. The pupil escaping double maths by playing truant is punished. Those who escape the workforce are considered lazy or wasted. Immigrants are viewed with suspicion, though their only crime was to stray from the landmass they happened to be born on.
This is all rather silly. We should respect people who take action by quitting the jobs they hate, leaving the partners they no longer love, fleeing the cities they find depressing, and abandoning traditions in which they find no value.
The will to flee was once considered a mental illness. Drapetomania was the apparent madness responsible for a plantation slave wanting to escape his captors. An American physician called Samuel A. Cartwright named the condition and explained that it could be recognised when a slave became “sulky and dissatisfied without cause” and generally prevented by “whipping the devil out of them”. I love that, in his eyes, being forced into backbreaking unpaid servitude was not considered adequate cause for “dissatisfaction”.
The Nazis were anti-escape too. Those who attempted (or were thought to be plotting) escape from concentration camps were branded with a Fluchtverdächtiger badge in addition to the badge representing whatever crime against Fascism had originally brought them to the camp. Not only was it awful to be born Jewish or gay or simply workshy, it was equally contemptible to want to escape being worked to death or gassed.
Today, a CV overflowing with short-term or dissimilar jobs is seen as unprofessional or belonging to an unfocused, undisciplined individual rather than, as the case may be, someone sporting or widely-experienced. Frankly, a CV professing no deviation from a single career plan can only belong to a liar or a twat but employers don’t often seem to notice this.
Slave owners, Nazis and HR Managers. Those are the kinds of people who oppose escape.
Against the grain, some of us are happy to walk out on a displeasing situation. We’re Escapologists.
A clipping from the first promotional email sent out by the publisher.
That tagline, by the way (“Ladies and gentlemen, we offer you escape!”) comes from a 1950s adventure radio series called Escape. I’ll tell you a little more about that some time.
Please consider backing the book if you’ve not already (and many thanks to everyone who has helped us get to 20% after just two days).
Should we make it, it’ll be a beautifully-designed book and a definitive and witty guide to Escapology and the good life. Help fund the project today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we offer you escape. Escape from work, escape from consumerism, escape from loneliness and despair. This book shows once and for all that escape is possible for those who want out.
Well, folks. It’s the long-awaited Escape Everything!, the [potential] New Escapologist book.
If the plan works, the book will be published by Unbound (a company set up by people from QI and the Idler — perfect for us) and distributed by Faber.
Needless to say, this is a very big deal for New Escapologist.
We’re dependent, however, on reaching a certain number of pre-sales.
If you’d like to see this on the shelves of bookshops (and on your own personal bookshelves or in your eBook reader), please (please!) go here to help fund the book.
“Radius of Action” is a term used by sailors and aviators. It refers to the maximum distance a ship or aircraft can travel away from its base and return without refuelling. For those in the business of employing ships and aircraft, a large Radius of Action is desirable.
But what if we twist the concept somewhat and apply it to our lives? Is it beneficial to go far?
In the absence of life having any particular meaning (I’ve checked…it doesn’t) we live for leisure: general enjoyment of life without unnecessary toil. The question, really, is not how far we can roam, but rather how far we need to roam, in order to enjoy life.
Enter the “Radius of Leisure”: the distance a person must travel in order to achieve a satisfactory degree of leisure. In contrast to the Radius of Action, a large Radius of Leisure is a bad thing. It is directly related to how much we need to earn (and therefore work) in order to satisfy our leisure pursuits. And it is inversely related to our happiness: a very large Radius of Leisure likely means we’re living in the wrong place.
How big is your radius?
I just finished reading Joanne B. Ciulla’s book The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Work.
I’d selected it with the intention of finding a useful quote for something I’m working on, but wound up reading it cover to cover.
It’s excellent. So usefully critical and written with personality and lightness of touch.
It could almost be a prologue to Escapology. Look at this piece of the epilogue:
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