Keep running. Don’t look back.
As you sprint away from the hatch, scan your surroundings for any sign of stone pedestals and shiny red buttons. Find only grass, trees, and assorted packs of people picnicking, tossing around Frisbees, and otherwise enjoying a fine summer’s day in what appears to be a well-appointed park.
Slow your pace. Take a deep breath. You’re safe for now.
Fire up Netflix and treat yourself to an extended marathon of The Great British Bake Off. Learn all about various types of sponge cakes. Form opinions about batters, icings, and soggy bottoms. Become deeply invested in the individual contestants and the outcome of the competition.
Take a break from your marathon to grab a beverage. Walk into the kitchen only to find a single, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and an old stone pedestal with a shiny red button atop it standing in the middle of the floor.
Do not press the button. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and focus. You’ve been here before. You’ve pressed the button before. You don’t want this…
Purchase several hundred dollars worth of board games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles. Wrap each purchase in Christmas-themed wrapping paper and carefully pack them into a red velvet sack.
Dress in your Santa costume, throw the sack over your shoulder, and head to the nearest senior citizens’ assisted living facility…
Hop in your car, fasten your seat belt, turn on the radio, and head toward the sunset. Let’s face it, whatever you were up to before this moment wasn’t all that great. This is better.
Your car is your personal anonymity device – you get in and you become no one. You don’t have to pretend to like your job, your colleagues, or your friends. You don’t have to pretend to be smart or confident or likable. When you remove yourself from the context of work, home, or relationships, you’re kind of nobody. Right now, you’re just another nameless driver on the road.
Take a photo of where you are now. Take a photo of the people and/or things that surround you. Take a selfie. Post these photos to your preferred social media account.
While you wait for the likes and comments to roll in, scroll through your photo backlog. How many do you have? A thousand? More? Give the screen whirl and stop at a random moment from your past.
Find a group of pictures you don’t recall taking. They’ll begin with a series of landscapes – a blur of trees from a car window, an empty road stretching to the horizon, tall grass along a shoreline…
Begin writing advice on how to celebrate National Creamsicle Day. Suggest the reader purchase a large quantity of Creamsicles, pack them in a cooler, and drag the cooler to an open mic night. When it’s their turn on stage, suggest the reader stand at the mic, wordlessly eating a Creamsicle until the joke on its stick is revealed. Tell them to read the joke aloud to the audience. Tell them to continue eating Creamsicles, repeating the process until all Creamsicles are consumed or they are forcibly removed from the premises. Mentally congratulate yourself for coming up with yet another clever bit of nonsense.
Hop in your car and cruise your town’s ritzier neighborhoods for a garage sale.
Protip: garage sales are sometimes referred to as “estate sales,” particularly when associated with negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, or death. So, bonus points for the opportunity to ghoulishly pick over the remains of another person’s life.
Find an estate sale, park your car, and make your way through the one man’s trash that may soon be your treasure. As you peruse the goods, imagine how the items fit together to tell the story of their previous owner’s life – a collection of commemorative thimbles, the complete Jim Nabors’ discography, a burlap sack of human hair…
Visit your local library and wander the stacks searching for your favorite books. When you find one, whip out a piece of scratch paper and scrawl a little note – something brief, but poignant – about how much the book meant to you. Tuck the note into the book’s pages and return it to its shelf.
Continue this process until, while leafing through the pages of another favorite, you happen upon a note from someone else…
Skip out on work today and take a road trip to the nearest lighthouse. Once there, demand to see the lighthouse keeper. You will know him immediately by sight – a tall man with a full, but well-kept beard, a stern face with bright eyes grey like the sea, blue like the sea, fickle like the sea. His eyes are very sea-like is what we’re saying.
Fall in love…
Spend the day fretting over your breath. Is it fresh? Is it clean? Does it offend in any way? Cup your hand to your mouth. Huff a bit. Take a sniff. What does your breath smell like? Coffee, cigarettes, beer, toothpaste? What was the last thing you ate? When was the last time you ate? Where are you, exactly?