Indistinct Chatter

Does everyone fantasize? I have asked that question for a very long time; simply because the topic interests me. The question is not limited to sexual fantasies, either. I wonder whether people fantasize about houses they might like to build or trips they might want to take or professions they might wish to have chosen. All sorts of things like that. And things not like that.

A fantasy I’ve had involves the ability to cause others to reveal their fantasies to me. Imagine, for example,  you get on a bus (either pre-COVID-19 or post-COVID-19) and sit near the driver. You strike up a conversation with the driver, eventually leading you to say, “Tell me about your fantasies. What do you fantasize about?” Now, sit back and listen to the driver’s detailed explanation of her daydreams or wishes or desires or…whatever you call them.

The fantasy does not have to involve a complete stranger, either. Consider the same scenario, but this time the target of your supernatural ability to draw out secrets is someone in your church or a clerk you see regularly at the grocery store or even your own spouse. Oh, that may be getting a little too close. Would you really want to know about fantasies that could, conceivably, be quite upsetting? How would you react to learning from a work colleague that his fantasy involves shoving you out the thirty-seventh floor window of a high rise building?

One of my many fantasies involves living in an architecturally modern house on a huge tract of land, far away from cities and towns and people in general. The place would be littered with barns, workshops, gardens, tractors, chicken coops, and vast pastures where horses and cows would wander freely. I envision this isolated place might be in New Zealand or Scotland or…I don’t know, somewhere different but where, when I must interact with people, I could speak the language.

Yet another fantasy is at odds with that one. This other fantasy has me living in an apartment in a crowded neighborhood in a big city. At the street level, merchants who sell vegetables and fresh meats and flowers and sandwiches and all manner of other stuff would set up shop very early every morning. When I go down to take my dog for a walk, I would encounter dozens of people I see regularly, including some who I would call friends. The neighborhood is a close-knit enclave in a big, impersonal city that offers everything I might want. Except vast open spaces and utter solitude.

There are more. Many more. You who are reading these words might discover, if you could draw from me a complete revelation of my fantasies, that you play a part in some of them. Perhaps just a bit part. Perhaps a major role. Perhaps not. In some of these fantasies of mine, I discover that I do not play a role; it’s as if I am looking at another person’s life, but experiencing it through my emotional filters. It’s hard to explain. Imagine looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection of whatever is behind you, but not seeing your image. That’s it. Now you’ve got it.

Sometimes, fantasy is the only safe place you can go to escape the crushing reality of life closing in around you. Even though it is a temporary respite, it acts like a safety net, preventing the fall all the way to the ground from the thirty-seventh floor; the net catches you after you’ve fallen only one or two stories.

Very early this morning, I skimmed a few articles that described dissociative identity disorder (DID), a psychological affliction that used to be described as multiple personality disorder. Maybe that’s what triggered my thought about fantasies; perhaps DID is a greatly amplified version of multiple fantasies that consume one’s mental life? Probably not. DID sounds like the outgrowth of some horrendous experiences during the early years of one’s life. Parenthetically, I was reading about DID as background to a story I’m contemplating, not because I think I suffer from it. I also read about hypochondriasis and thought how much more difficult it might be for health care professionals to treat hypochondriasis that involves a mental affliction, as opposed to a physical affliction. Maybe that will find its way into my story.

I wonder whether my writing is simply an expression of some of my fantasies, a way to express them without revealing that they are mine? How silly to wonder about that! Of course! But only sometime. The trick is to differentiate between fiction, fact, and fantasy. I cannot always make the distinction.

This blog is littered with the retelling of a thousand of my fantasies. Most involve desolation, isolation, solitude. I wonder whether I belong on a planet I have to share with other people? I wrote, once, that in my daydreams of solitude I find solace; solace is comfort in sorrow or misfortune, or the alleviation of distress or discomfort. Where the hell is all this sorrow, discomfort, distress, etc. coming from? I think its source must be the same as my fantasies.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Indistinct Chatter

  1. Bev, I suspect that fantasies and the imagination, if not one and the same, are closely intertwined. My guess is that the degree to which one’s fantasies or imagination are “fantastic” has as much to do with one’s satisfaction with one’s place in life as with anything else. Again, just a guess. Realism versus wishful thinking, perhaps? I don’t think it’s sad at all that your fantasies avoid grandiose expressions of the impossible; that suggests to me you’re solidly grounded in the real world.

  2. bev wigney says:

    I’ve just been trying to think of what kind of fantasies I have. I realize they are probably kind of weird and maybe aren’t fantasies at all — just imagination — is that the same thing? I will explain. When I buy vegetable seeds, in my mind’s eye, I already see the nice vegetables that will grow from the seeds. When I plant some tree seeds or some nuts, and a small tree grows, by the time it is a foot or two tall, my mind’s eye is already imagining it as a tall tree — so I’m leaving space around it as I transplant it into the garden. When I am scraping the paint off the wall of my house, I’m already imagining it with a fresh coat of paint. A lot of these fantasies are like encouragements to myself — keep going — keep interested — you can do it. I guess it’s a little sad that I don’t really have much bigger fantasies that what I’ll bake with the wild blackberries I picked this afternoon. I don’t tend to fantasize anything to do with people, or with things that are unlikely to happen. I may have at one time, but I have to say that my mind has been bashed around quite a lot over the years, so I restrict most of my fantasizing to simple things — like the seeds, the trees, thinking about something to cook, how some house repair will look if things turn out right. I have come to realize that I don’t aim too high anymore. :o)

  3. Indeed. Indescribable deeper wounds; some have to dig past them, some never dig deep enough to find them.

  4. davidlegan says:

    Perhaps the second verse of the Poem “Silence” by Edgar Lee Masters will shed a bit of light. The last four lines might just tell it all. We all find our solace, but some of us must dig deeper to get there.

    A curious boy asks an old soldier
    Sitting in front of the grocery store,
    “How did you lose your leg?”
    And the old soldier is struck with silence,
    Or his mind flies away
    Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
    It comes back jocosely
    And he says, “A bear bit it off.”
    And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
    Dumbly, feebly lives over
    The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
    The shrieks of the slain,
    And himself lying on the ground,
    And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
    And the long days in bed.
    But if he could describe it all
    He would be an artist.
    But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
    Which he could not describe.

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