It wasn’t just the famous American 1960s songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who felt those sentiments, that driving need to get out of whatever limitations they were in at the time.
We’ve all been there! When it isn’t the four walls crowding in on us, it can be our entire environment, especially for those having to live for any length of time in an ugly industrial city. And it isn’t always easy to see the rainbow above the slums, or over the slag heaps in a mining town either. There are ways like earnest prayer to shove the darkness aside and step out into spiritual fresh air and the Light. But it can be an especially difficult time for those who don’t have an obvious way to escape from, say, a bad family or job situation.
Understandably, Mann and Weil’s We gotta get out of this place resonated strongly with the U.S. troops stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975). If anyone ever had a reason to get out of an ugly situation, it is our troops during wartime, though most realize why they are fighting and what they are fighting for. Even that doesn’t keep them from rightfully wanting to be elsewhere.
Vietnam, of course, was controversial. Should we have even sent our troops over there? That’s a debate for those far more informed than I am. And I mean “informed,” not just opinionated based on what their ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal dad or grandfather said. I mean no disrespect to those who were killed fighting the encroachment of an evil regime. Many wounded Nam survivors are buried now near equally honorable veterans of the Korean War era and WWII.
For most of us, “getting out of this place” meant we couldn’t wait to get out of High School by finally graduating, though some chickened out and quit early or were driven out by bad circumstances. For the average student, even with dedicated teachers, the system was and is not always conducive to learning those things in life that will actually matter as we get older. Even so, there is something to be said for seeing things through to the end. Only the nerds saw an actual future in my day, though I was perilously close to being one myself.
Still, life being what it is, if you don’t have a high school diploma, you’re not going to get any worthwhile jobs as an adult, so if you still need your high school credentials, get enrolled in evening classes and earn them. Life, as they constantly tell me at the office, “is what it is.” It’s up to us to do something about it when we want change, whether on a physical, emotional, spiritual or financial level.
Lower the Pace of Your Life
We have to work hard, even when we are too tired or ill or disadvantaged to get anywhere fast. But better to be tortoise than hare anyway. More sinks into our brains along the way. There just isn’t any “easy” way out, short of settling for growing a veggie garden in a pastoral valley rather than ending one’s own life. Growing a veggie garden is a good thing!! And if that works for you, go for it! Seriously. Frenetic city life is not for everyone and can do irreparable damage.
For those feeling completely overwhelmed or depressed, whose contacts are unsupportive, you always have access to a crisis hotline. Search the Internet and CALL THEM! If you must, call two or three to get a variety of input but call. You need to talk to a trained person about your situation.
Everyone hates restrictions based on racial stereotypes or economic realities. But there are other chains just as confining:
- Family responsibilities can be onerous, especially for those who stagger under them without help from anyone else. They need our friendship in ways that won’t make their situation worse.
- Marriage itself doesn’t always turn out the way people are promised and this isn’t just due to selfishness. Many factors are involved.
- Home ownership can be a real prison when you consider all the expenses and all the backbreaking responsibilities that go with it. Even then, it’s usually more advantageous than paying obscene rents in a greedy city but not always. Beneficial trade-offs with renting can include making it easier to move when you’ve had enough of your current situation.
- Name your own.
So if you are saying to yourself “I’ve got to get out of this place,” realize you are not alone. It’s perfectly normal. Always look for the blessings and the silver lining of any situation but when you know those are not outweighing what you feel, start researching and planning your next opportunity to grow.