Now, lest you start to worry, I didn't suffer actual breaks from reality or anything - these were more like carefully crafted daydreams or "thought vacations."
I had fantasies of every stripe and variety. There were the Please Rescue Me fantasies of my younger days, which usually involved being adopted by some loving teacher, neighbor or family. These easily morphed into the Prince Charming fantasies of my adolescence which grew ever steamier and complex as I got older.
Then, of course, there were the I am SO Good Enough fantasies, which generally involved Olympic medals, hit songs and Academy Awards.
But when things got really bad, I could always resort to one of my Leave Me the Fuck Alone fantasies, which included things like being marooned in a tropical paradise, or the darker more nihilistic kind where I would awake in some sort of post apocalyptic world to discover that I was the only human left on the planet earth.
But of all of my fantasies, one of the most enduring and flexible has been the Witness Protection Program fantasy.
I still catch myself drifting off there now and then whenever life starts to feel a bit overwhelming (like, say, when I'm faced with the illness of a beloved pet.)
So here's the scenario:
Through some quirk of fate I happen to witness some sort of Mafia transaction - one which will surely result in my being "rubbed out" in short order, until the FBI sweeps in and takes matters into their own hands. I'm left with no choice but to testify against the bad guys, abandon my life (the FBI fixes it so everyone thinks I'm dead) and enter the witness protection program.
Now, depending on how badly I want to escape from myself, the fantasy sometimes involves plastic surgery, amnesia, and/or the mysterious disappearance of several inches of height - but none of that is really a necessary component.
At first blush one might think this fantasy is simply a convenient way to escape from a painful past and an uncertain present. A unique opportunity to finally have what I always wanted... to "be normal" (whatever the fuck that means.)
But the interesting thing is that the sort of life that my witness protection self always seems to create is generally a very small and quiet life. I mean, if the mob is after you, the last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself, right?
So in this little dream, I've given myself permission to simply melt into the fabric of society... to be ordinary... to stop trying so frickin' hard... and it's always such an incredible relief.
And when I look back and compare the reality of my daily life to the life of my younger self, it is rather remarkable how much like the witness protection fantasy my actual life has become.
No... I didn't disappear, or change my name (well - except for the purposes of this blog) or move to a different city, or anything like that. But my life is certainly quieter and smaller. There are fewer people in my life now, and I don't spend nearly as much time worrying about what they think.
Once I stopped working, I learned pretty quickly that my "big important job" wasn't really all that important after all. And while there are plenty of issues that I care deeply about, I've sort of given up on the idea that my purpose in life is to fix everything. In a real sense, I guess I've stopped trying to "matter" so much.
To my former self, all of this would have been unthinkable. If I wasn't striving, and working, and suffering, and achieving, and proving something to someone all the time, I honestly felt like I didn't have the right to exist.
I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this... I mean, it's not like I've got everything figured out now, and that my life is totally peachy keen. But there is a certain peace in surrender, and it's sorta nice not to need the threat of mafia hit men in order to allow myself to let go a little bit.
So, I guess I'll just leave it at that, and offer up one of my very favorite songs from back in my younger days. Yes... I was HUGE John Denver fan, and he was the object of many-a Prince Charming fantasy!
So how about you? How does your fantasy world compare with reality?