Back when I used to work, I remember having a few depressive episodes of feeling stuck in a cubicle for the rest of my natural life. At the time, I had graduated college and wasn’t using my bachelor’s degree for anything useful. Law school was still a dream. My job consisted of sitting at a desk and staring at a monitor for hours on end. I wasn’t as good at it as the other people on my shift. The lack of skill eroded my confidence until I dreaded going to work.
One of the things I did to mitigate this was to take little mental vacations.
It wasn’t much, but on a break, I’d be able to go to Google maps and go anywhere in the world. I could look at the Rocky Mountains. I could check out the highways in Mexico. Sometimes, I’d check out a country like Georgia and marvel at the scenic beauty, dreaming of a time when I could go there for myself.
Sometimes, I’d plan the longest road trip ever. I could go from the southeast U.S. all the way to Alaska, through Canada. I wanted to know what it was like to drive all the way, seeing it from the ground. It’s one thing to fly over some mountains; they’re more majestic when I look up at them.
Eventually I tried looking for a way to drive the whole length of the Americas. From Alaska to Argentina. From Chile to Canada. At the time the maps weren’t the best south of Mexico. I wasn’t sure if it was possible to take that kind of a road trip.
I haven’t checked back since.
Some of this is anxiety, an unwillingness to revisit past activities in tumultuous times. I relive fear in my memories. I can still remember the panic with some of them though they’re decades in the past.
During the quarantine, it’s important to do whatever’s possible to mitigate the isolation. I live out in the country, so I have the space to roam a bit without being close to people. Maybe others don’t have that luxury. If no one can get outside, life can look bleak within four familiar walls. I know what that’s like, too.
Sometimes, it takes looking at familiar things in a new way. Travel through the wakes of digital pioneers. Learn something new. Look at things in a new way, with the kind of imagination that defies constraining.
3 thoughts on “Mental Vacations”
You have to take a ferry from Panama to Columbia. Still no roads through the Darien mostly jungle and controlled by the cartels.
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This made me smile because I often look at Google maps and explore.
When I’m feeling particularly stressed sometimes my mind I will latch on to a city that seems to have a lot of opportunities or interesting culture and I fantasize about moving there. I’ll research the jobs, housing, history, weather, demographics, attractions etc. Then, when I’m less stressed I give up my daydream and come back to reality but it’s totally occupies my mind while it lasts.
Have you tried the game where you are plopped down in the middle of a location and you have to guess where in the world you are based on Google map images? I think it’s called GeoGuessr or something like that. It’s a good way to occupy your mind and see sights around the world. Though, sometimes it’s difficult when you are in the middle of some random rural road.
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I have not tried that game, but I shall give it a look.
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