The outdoors, escapism, and selling hamburgers
As I pass the one month mark since Burger Bench has opened, my urge to have an outdoor adventure has increased incredibly.
The restaurant has been very successful, beyond what we could have hoped for. Our customers have been friendly and generous in their reviews. As can be expected, my entire days are filled with the restaurant as we learn our processes and work out the kinks. On some of the days, I both entered and exited the restaurant without seeing the sun, except through the skylights and windows of our restaurant's dining room.
I am still managing the bits of remaining construction, the daily ordering of food, beer, and supplies, process improvement, employees, vendor relations, costing, and the vast array of small emergencies and decisions that emerge throughout every day.
I knew it would be like this. There was even an article written about how hard it would be, but it still doesn't make it any easier.
As I browse social media and nearly form tears from the beautiful outdoor pictures I see, and in the few minutes I have before I fall asleep at night, I think about what the outdoors means to me. Some people describe a sort of magical effect that nature has on people. I understand that, but for me, it is something clearly defined.
It is escapism at its finest. The definition of escapism is "the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy."
People do many things for the purpose of escaping. We watch TV, listen to music, see movies, read, go to concerts, hang out with friends, do yoga, pilates, sports, surfing, drugs, drink, buy things, go fishing, skiing, skydiving, hunting, dine out, write, knit, gamble, crossword, sudoku, meditate, cycling, among other things. We do all sorts of things to place a pause on the increasingly complex world we live in.
I choose to hike. Whether it's a short hike in the canyon with my dog or a multi-day backpacking trip outside of cell coverage, I hike to escape. It is a specific mechanism to remove the daily distractions and pressure by causing me to forget the endless tasks that I yet have to do. It's sort of a temporary ritual of minimalism; a head-clearing.
During hiking, my existence on this planet is stripped down to keeping my feet moving at the right pace for the slope while being aware of my thirst, hunger, fatigue, and balance. All this in a state of allowing myself to be open to amazement. I want to marvel at the natural world, at the tracks in the dirt, the hawk feather in the grass, the view of a green valley below, the scented breeze, and the startling color gradient in the sky.
As I do this, I relax and remember to feel myself breathing.
Sure, there's a little magic in the experience, but at the heart, it's escapism. And it's OK. It's here for a reason. Escapism exists because our ancestors lived a simpler life. They perceived longer days and a razor focus on survival. Now, every second of every day is typically assigned to something specific. We need that regular taste of simplicity.
So, as my life as a restaurant owner continues, I can wax philosophical about my reasons for hiking, but as I begin to delegate some of my responsibilities, my eyes are on the prize. A short hike in the morning. An actual day off here and there. A backpacking trip.
My next step is to sacrifice some sleep and get some outdoors time. From there, it can only get better.