From excessive nights out to running a marathon, Josie Mitchell on why we actively pursue temporary escapes from the everyday.
We go out and play at night. Sometimes we go all out. We are excessive, we push back against moderation. It’s fun, it’s liberating. On the dance floor – amid the music, the alcohol and the drugs – we lose ourselves and it’s glorious. I associate these moments with a sense of arrival. Harmony between my inner and outer selves. Or the liberation of putting on a new skin entirely, an alter ego that expresses adjectives that don’t otherwise apply to me (extravagant, boisterous, vain, high-heeled).
I use various substances, costumes and people to take me to this place. Alcohol and drugs, like MDMA, disinhibit. We take them for this reason. Conversation begins to flow, physical intimacy becomes intuitive. Connection comes easier. Sex comes easier. Those voices in our heads quieten. Yet, wonderful as they feel, such behaviours can have unhealthy manifestations. We can lose interest in (or track of) our daytime existence. We flirt with addiction and risk our mental health.