In the Editor’s Letter for the August issue of The Manual, out now on iTunes and Android, PHOENIX’s Editor-in-Chief, Hannah Kane, looks at the cultural guilt associated with taking time off.

Despite the fact pretty much all the fun things in life such as art and literature, cinema, alcohol and fine dining, sport, travel, cinema and television are fuelled by our desire to break free from the oft-mundane reality of everyday life, escapism gets a bad rap from the mindfulness crew who insist we should all be living in the present. But what if that present is kind of boring? Or worse – so stressful you’re hurtling towards nuclear burnout.

I’m pro-escapism, same as Narnia author C. S. Lewis who quipped the only people who hate escapism are jailers. Transport yourself to an alternate reality and come back refreshed. It takes discipline though. Escapism is like salt; a little sprinkle will enrich the flavour of your life. Too much and the whole plate is ruined. There’s a fine line between escapism and addition. Cracking open a beer, rolling a cheeky joint and sticking on Netflix to wind down of an evening. All well and good, but don’t be blazing at the bus stop.

This month I ran away to Ibiza, nirvana for hedonists. Clubs to cater for every kind of character profile, from Paris Hilton’s frankly horrific sounding Foam & Diamonds Party at Amnesia, to Jamie Jones’ night Paradise at DC10, and Tale Of Us’ transcendental soundscape Afterlife at Space. There in the darkness sliced by lasers, lungs and chest reverberating with bass, you can be lost, and yet supported, by an ecstatic mass of human flesh moving as one. It feels tribal, and it strikes me that as much as escaping from reality, we’re looking for connectedness with each other. Escapism is a dish best served shared, like tapas.

I returned to London four days later sleep-deprived, a crop of new freckles where there weren’t before, perhaps missing a few brain cells. But then, I figure we only use 10% of our brains, so there’s plenty more where that came from. The tan fades but the memories are imprinted forever. There’s a fleeting feeling of guilt that I deigned to take time off from work, but more importantly a renewed vigour and a spark of creativity that had been hiding under a mountain of to-do lists and the July tax deadline. Nothing that a good dose of seratonin boosting 5HTP won’t fix. Take a break this summer, you’ve earned it.

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The Manual – August

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