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Don’t Escape It. Create It.

Daily Stoic Emails

Escapism is tempting…but dangerous. We think, when frenzied or fraught, an exotic getaway will be the cure. But inevitably, the rush of travel wears off and the pretty pictures fade from your phone’s “recent” album. Suddenly, we’re back to reality only feeling worse—tortured by thoughts of calculating when we can justify taking the next trip. It’s like buying inner peace on a high-interest credit card—eventually the bill comes due…or the debt piles higher and higher. 

With exactly that in mind, we interviewed Katie Wells—creator of Wellness Mama and the natural personal care products company Wellnesse. Katie is also a practicing Stoic—and as such, we asked why she decided to up and move her family to the beach. We wondered, was there an element of wanting to escape the busy-ness of the city and everyday life in Katie’s decision? Her answer is one that Marcus would likely endorse:

I joke that it was beaches and taxes, but it isn’t too far from the truth. My husband and I wanted to find a place where we could spend a lot of time outdoors with our kids and build community. I find that living in a beautiful place actually enhances my ability to work and to be able to look inward…When we lived in other places, I found myself looking forward to the escape of vacation much more because it came so rarely. Living in a beautiful place enhances my creativity and sense of wonder.

Katie wasn’t escaping reality. She was creating the reality she didn’t want to escape. 

How many of us fantasize about the hopefully-not-too-distant future where the time will be just right to live the life we really want? How many of us chase the mirage of retirement? Out of fear of the uncertainties and unknowns inherent to change, how many of us defer our happiness? Even in Seneca’s time people were doing this. As he wrote in On The Shortness Of Life

You will hear many people saying: When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; when I am sixty I shall give up public duties. And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren’t you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life, and to devote to wisdom only that time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end!

We could have the life we want today, Marcus Aurelius wrote, but instead we choose tomorrow. Well, stop. Make a different decision. Think about Katie’s example. It’s not reckless…it may be the path to wellness.

P.S. This was originally sent on June 11, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.