Mental Escapes: Take a Journey to Middle Earth

My family went through a crisis recently. And I noticed that it affected each family member differently. Some of us got very emotional. Some withdrew into themselves. Others seemed busier than ever.

In the midst of it all, my sister – an avid reader – revealed that she was re-reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. She then went on to say that she did this every two years or so, whenever she got really stressed. Apparently, she finds it soothing.

My first thought was: that’s weird. I myself have never been all that into fantasy literature, despite a son who recently declared The Silmarillion to be his favorite book.  Not familiar with that one? Think of it as a sort of Middle Earth version of The Book of Matthew, Chapter One (the one that reads “And Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob, etc. etc.” Except that in this case, because it’s Tolkien,  it reads more like “Rian, daughter of Belegund, was the wife of Huor, son of Galdor…,” on and on for like 300 pages. Small print. The fun never stops…

But my sister’s comment got me thinking. We do all have our own ways to escape when we’re feeling tired or stressed or over-extended. On her terrific blog, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about creating “a place of refuge.” By which she means a literal space  – for her, it’s often libraries – that can serve as a peaceful refuge for her thoughts.

But you don’t actually need to go somewhere to find solace, as my sister’s Lord of the Rings habit reminds us. My husband listens to music on headphones or watches concert videos. I just spent two hours with a friend whose husband did nothing but garden the entire time I was there. To me it looked exhausting, dirty and  nerve-wracking, but he was clearly completely zoned out.

I tend to dive into family sagas when I want to chill out. I’m currently in a French cinema phase – Summer Hours, I’ve Loved You So Long – to name a few. Or I’ll read something like Revolutionary Road. There’s something about immersing myself in someone else’s problems that I find…comforting. (Yes, I know, I’m a freak.)

How about you? How do you unwind? And where do you go?

Eln Sila lumenn omentielvo (a star shines upon the hour of our meeting…)


And speaking of literary escapes, via the Practicing Writing blog, I came across this list of obscure literary terms. Fun stuff!!

Image: Woman in her Garden, Virgin Islands? via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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