"Get your feet back on the ground, and stop building castles in the sky” is something I’ve heard my entire life. As a devoted wife and mother of five young kids, much of the time I live grounded in the here and now. But occasionally I check-out. Okay, not occasionally, a lot.
Attribute it to being an idealist by nature whose inclination to “float away” grew even more pronounced after years of stress immersion. Toss it all together and you’ve got the quintessential recipe for a psychological state I call: The Fantasy Alternative.
And before you judge too harshly, this alternative mindset has been my salvation through all kinds of adversity, helping me press on through trauma. Whether I fancy myself a soldier engaged in battle during the morning get-the hell-up-and-ready-for-school chaos, or a twenty-year-old fitness model rocking it hard at the gym or an internationally-acclaimed author rapt in the writerly-flow, I’m always hoping and truly do believe that the glory days will be back for an encore.
Each day I marvel at the trivial life-affirming moments like when the last iota of a 50-pound tub of laundry detergent disappears, or when the kids polish off yet another gallon of milk, or toss out an empty bottle of shampoo. Fleeting moments of festivity rush through me because these small acts indeed confirm our existence in the cycle of life. And I am so grateful to wake up each morning and be part of its rotation.
Sounds petty to take note of such ordinariness, I know, but each day truly does bring new opportunities to change the world by first adjusting our optic---ever so slightly.
Another technique that keeps me suspended in blissful anticipation is through the careful selection of my information intake. Yes, I read newspapers daily and know what’s going on in my own backyard. Yet I also read publications such as National Geographic that allow my imagination to soar. And I cannot resist a good book, topics that span the genres of historical nonfiction to memoir to global politics.
All this mental enrichment sets me ablaze with an indescribable life force that catapults me out of bed each morning. It keeps my brain occupied (and distracted) with larger-than-life thoughts, and keeps me grounded despite my flighty Aquarian tendencies.
This fantastical perspective enables me to quickly assess the relative importance and relevance of chic topics so I can weed out the superficial fluff and grapple with those issues worthy of deeper understanding.
Does this make me an ignoramus? Disengaged from reality? Perhaps. I say that I’m simply choosing the reality in which to live.
Because what is reality anyway? Does it need to be the same one for all of us? Should we be worrying about the same feckless issues and bemoaning the same trendy scandals like programmed robots, all at once? (Definitions of psychological well-being and sanity evolve relative to the respective culture and times. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is continuously revised and updated to add, remove and re-define pathologies.)
Call me a child. A romantic. A fool. It doesn’t matter. I still have unequivocal faith in the old school institution of marriage and family. In the indisputable advantage of a face-to-face encounter. And I believe in world peace.
And at the end of my days, I will have lost nothing by exchanging a lifetime of unnecessary grief for an unbreakable pair of rose-colored glasses. Yes, I’ll take my chances and err on the side of ignorant bliss than nail-bite my way through a joyless existence fraught with caution and pragmatism.
Because each morning, at the crack of dawn, I lunge out of bed with a wondrous surge of vigor, in a perpetual state of “stand-by,” expecting nothing, yet eager to see how life will play out.
And I know the difference a day can make.