I keep reading that term. People mention it in comments on the blog and in threads on Twitter. I even heard Eric Mabius use the phrase in an interview. SSD is an “escape” from the harsh reality of this world.
I get that. I have certainly gotten lost in the characters and the story. I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep for one reason or another, and turn on one of the movies or episodes to watch while my active mind settles down. It’s a nice respite from everyday trials and tribulations as we focus instead on the problems facing our POstables.
Truth be told, however, I’m good at escape. I’ve been one to get lost in a book or a TV series or a movie my entire life. It’s a coping mechanism that started when I was young and has served me well throughout the years. I tend to think - and overthink - probably more than is good for a person, and when that thinking process is focused on my own family life or work life or whatever other inner turmoil is currently plaguing me, it can be somewhat debilitating. I instead switch my overthinking to the lives of the characters I’m watching. What’s going to happen to them? What will they do next? What were they thinking when they made that decision? All questions that are much easier to ask of a character in a TV series or a movie than to ask of yourself.
What I’ve become not so great at is reality. Sometimes when you have a coping mechanism that works really well, you use it too much. I imagine it’s not unlike an addiction to alcohol or gambling, although having never dealt with those vices I hesitate to make a full comparison. You start shutting off - and shutting out - people and things that really matter, and that’s dangerous on a number of levels. Relationships are damaged. You stop feeling empathy with real people. You go through the proverbial motions of real life without actually participating in it. It’s a sad way to live - something that you don’t want to think about too much - so you fall back on your escape tactics and the cycle continues.
As I mentioned previously, my affinity for SSD started like any other of my many attachments to shows and characters. It was that escape from real life. The characters were dynamic, the humor was intelligent, and the story was compelling. There was a pretty darned decent fanfic author out there who, after the end of the first season, kept my escape alive as I read the stories she wrote about the characters. I kept up with whether or not it would be renewed and was excited to find out it would be coming back after For Christmas as a movie series. I knew then that there was something different about SSD, but I didn’t really question the deeper stuff. I just continued to enjoy re-watching the episodes and reading the stories.
I remember seeing a post on Twitter about the approaching launch of this blog in May or early June of 2015. It was intriguing - the idea that someone was going to write a blog post every day about the show. I was here day one, curious to find out what all that would entail. The blog coincided with the premiere of From Paris with Love, and thus began the analysis posts that A&D has become known for producing. I remember thinking a few times early on that this blogger girl was a little off her rocker. There was NO way ALL that could be embedded in a TV show. That didn’t stop me from coming back every day to read the next post, though, and I slowly but surely came around to the idea that there really was something deeper going on here.
If I were to attempt to describe everything that has happened since, this letter would certainly be longer than the stamina of most readers, so I’ll try to summarize. The show and the blog have, steadily, brought me out of my escape and back into the real world. I suppose in the paraphrased words of Holly, they "took me out of my head and put me back in my heart." I have gained a network of friends - some of the most amazing women I have ever known - who speak faith and truth and encouragement to me on a daily basis, and from whom I am learning so much about being honest and fair and excellent and kind - and who help me decide on a daily basis that I want to be those things.
I told one of these friends once that I believe in some ways SSD was God’s last lifeline to me - His final attempt at pulling me back to Him after I had worked so hard to bury myself away. I’m probably wrong about that - He is, after all, a God of second chances, which I need continually. I would be lying if I said that I am completely immune from my tendencies to withdraw and escape. I am still amazed, though, at how He reaches out to find me where I am. How He has turned something I was using to escape reality into something that causes me to live more fully. How He continues to bless this show, its creator, and the faithful author of the blog dedicated to it. I suppose God only knows how He does all that. And that’s enough for me.
As always, the Living Letters series continues as long as there are stories to share, and I'm always looking for submissions. If you would like to contribute something about how Signed, Sealed, Delivered has impacted your life that you'd be willing to share here on A&D, feel free to email me.