The Places That We Cannot Escape

The Places That We Cannot Escape

This essay was originally published by Patricia Hurducas on her blog.

What are the places, the ideas, the people that we cannot escape?

By “escape” I do not mean “break free from confinement or control”. By “not escaping” I mean that we are so enthralled, so curious, and so in love with them that even if we tried, we cannot let them pass us by.

To describe more accurately what I am trying to convey, I’ll use this scene that I love from “Portrait Of A Lady On Fire”:

Marianne and Héloïse have yet to acknowledge their growing desire when they are brought to an evening gathering of the women who live on the isolated island in Brittany. As the two soon-to-be-lovers exchange glances across the bonfire, a low, slow chant starts to rise as the rest of the women gather to sing.

The song grows, clapping starts, and they begin to repeat a lyric:

‘fugere non possum,’ which means ‘I cannot escape’. 1
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

The movie had no music up until this moment, which made the build-up even more arresting, more intense. One can view this scene from many points of view, but I immediately thought of fugere non possum and the glances between the two women as a beautiful metaphor for the process of falling irrevocably in love. I cannot flee. We cannot flee, escape; we are slowly and yet powerfully drawn in.

Fugere non possum describes the act of falling in love and having the breakthrough of such a love. I cannot think of a better scene than this to visually and audibly show this.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

Ever since I watched this movie, I kept asking myself: what are the places, the people, the ideas that I don’t want to escape? And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.

I pondered and pondered, and then it hit me.

The one quality present in all the people, places, and ideas that I deeply love is urgency—the urgency to experience life. Beyond urgency, there’s intensity. An intensity in which life is lived, questioned, challenged, changed, and brought into the limelight every single day.

In the past weeks, I had many moments of fugere non possum. It all started with booking a flight to a place that’s been quite difficult to imagine myself in, but which never left my mind. I think that moments like this have a quick domino effect; life unfolds quickly once we give in.

There’s a piece by Max Richter that I love: “we circle through the night, consumed by fire.” And if “consumed” sometimes has a negative connotation, I’m drawn to its synonyms: “immersed,” “swallowed up,” “engulfed.” That’s how I want to spend my life and live in places—completely engulfed, completely enraptured, without a desire to flee.

1* ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ Bonfire Scene: How Céline Sciamma Crafted the Year’s Best Musical Moment