As we are rolling over (right about now!) into the new year, here’s a deep thought:
Next time someone asks you, “What is the point of watching anime/playing video games/reading fantasy/insert marginalized hobby here?”…
…Point to the year 2017! Do you need any better justification for escapism?!
I did up the preceding picture today rather tongue-in-cheek. In all seriousness, though, 2017 was personally the year from Hell for me, and may very well have been for a lot of others; and at least on a socio-political level a lot of us seemed disappointed (or already too disillusioned to be disappointed). Escape helps us survive, and not in a bad way as it sometimes is perceived:
Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing… the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. [JRR Tolkien, Essay on Fairy Stories]
So as awful as 2017 may have been for you—and I hope it was not, but let’s assume it was—it’s worth remembering that this is not our home. None of us will stay here, in this life or in this current situation. As Socrates is said to have observed before he was executed, either there’s an afterlife or there isn’t: If there is, then we have every reason to hope for a better life beyond death; and if there is not, then death is no different than the deepest and sweetest slumber. Either way, where you and I are now is not our home: it is rather a temporary prison—sometimes a very comfortable prison, but merely a holding cell until we are released.
Until we are released, there is nothing wrong with seeking to escape. These things remind us, in some mysterious way, of Home.
May you have a wonderful 2018! Happy New Year!