“To dig deeper into the self…is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself…in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest.” –Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
Of all places, I actually saw this on a Facebook post by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert. She had asked, “Does running away work?” It caught my attention not only because the question so perfectly fits my life circumstances right now but also because I was working through some of my thoughts about a weekend excursion to the Strawberry Festival in Ozaukee County. Shortly before seeing Gilbert’s post, I had written this:
The moment in Ozaukee County – that feeling and emotion that takes up space in my heart and mind – wasn’t the art or the unique food or the historic charm of Cedarburg. It was getting lost in the music through dance. For two hours I felt like I had found a short cut to my own happiness. I didn’t feel consumed by anger or hurt or failure or bewilderment. I felt separate from my life. Almost as if I had escaped my mind and become a more beautiful and whole version of myself. A version of me I almost forgot existed. In the midst of one of the most challenging and lowest points of my life, I found myself dancing for joy and not for pain.
Perhaps it’s for that very reason Rebecca Solnit’s words struck such a strong chord with me. While I believe digging deep and being self-introspective is a useful tool for gaining insight it can be somewhat confining as well. For months I’ve been stuck inside my own head and so wrapped up in a myriad of questions and emotions that I wasn’t opening myself up to the larger world. Life can be hard and sometimes it’s necessary to feel the weight of your burdens. But life is also beautiful, even when it feels like everything has gone to hell and a hand basket. I suppose that’s what I’ll remember most about my time in Ozaukee County. Getting lost in the music, being outside of myself, and feeling hopeful.