Slam. Click. Lock.
What to do with the key? Guess I’ll give it a toss.
Over the bridge, down into the river, at the bottom it sits.
Outside my reach.
Now to find some relief.
Riding along the long winding roads with my partner.
Headed to a more secluded destination.
Away from the noise.
Drifting away from 2020’s depression monster.
I find myself surrounded by nature.
By beauty existing despite the world’s bleakness.
Actions taken for self-preservation became my mantra.
Merriam-Webster defines tune out as to become unresponsive: ignore. As selfish as it sounds to disassociate myself, at that moment I felt this was the lifeline I needed to avoid drowning in the anguish of others. Lucky for me, I did not have to go on this journey alone. Sensing my distress and feeling my agony, my partner helped me discover my means of escape.
Riding along the long winding roads.
Wind blowing on my face.
Sun streaming on us, warming my golden brown skin.
Music up LOUD to drown out the outside noise.
Headed to a safe space, a safe place, where I would put away the notifications, alerts, and doomscrolling that leads to a vicious cycle of negativity.
Purposeful time set aside to reconnect with me.
Walking trails surrounded by nature.
Soothing sounds of water trickling down paths and rushing down falls.
A release and relief from the aches in my heart and my head.
Joy is found once again.
2020 did not hand deliver to me the blows that many of my family, friends, and colleagues faced. I was blessed beyond belief and yet, I still had a valley of my own to overcome. You have heard of the term empath? Highly sensitive individuals who are able to sense what others are thinking and feeling. Now imagine for a moment being an empath whose every day job revolves around news and social media. My life became inundated with the information about COVID-19, social justice issues, racial injustices, and – in my industry – devastating stories of the never-ending stream of loss after loss suffered by individuals, institutions, organizations, and groups in the arts and humanities.
Existing in a climate of constant sorrow, grief, hopelessness, negativity, discord, and discontent. Continuous arguments between keyboard warriors screaming at one another with no intent to listen, to understand, to show compassion or empathy. This very LOUD environment absolutely took its toll on me.
I sensed my joy slowly slipping away with each passing day. My superpower of empathy suddenly became an iron cage trapping me in my nature. I felt the mental and emotional turmoil of others but could not find words to bring about understanding. I became paralyzed in a constant state of yearning to help heal the pain and tearing away from the agony to safeguard myself. My inner struggle and daily dialogue relentlessly tearing as I argued over how to lend a life raft in this sea of shrieking words. Meanwhile my silence continued to grow.
Riding up the steep mountains.
Photographing breathtaking views.
Stopping at a bridge.
Listening as the river flows rhythmically downstream.
Up we go, higher and higher.
Harness in place.
Buckle. Click. Lock.
Gliding from point to point.
Sliding over trees and valleys.
Feeling the rush of adrenaline flowing through my body.
Deeply breathing in the fresh crisp air.
Gazing out over the stunning landscape.
I found my escape from the world’s troubles in these brief occasions. And now I know what to do when things get too difficult to bear. Turn the world off. Lock it up and for a few moments, throw away the key.
Brittney is an artist and arts ambassador with a passion for sharing the work of creatives; elevating their voices and increasing their spheres of influence. A believer in the notion that exposure to cross-cultural experiences can change perspectives, build bridges and transform lives, Brittney is on a mission to create a safe and inviting space where curious spirits can explore the world around them through art and culture.