Escape fantasies, not unlike chocolate, can make you feel so good, and so much better about life in the right amounts. But, also like chocolate, if you take too much, it can leave you feeling quite ill.
We all need escape fantasies, whether you're a stay at home mom stuck in a parking lot while your little ones eat French fries, dreaming of biking alone through Greece; or a CEO with mountains of paperwork imagining yourself writing erotic fiction in your pajamas.
The advent of electronic hand held devices has contributed to the ever present possibility of escaping, should reality become to existentially angst-ridden. In the blink of an eye we can be perusing a cutie's Facebook pictures or looking at photos of Spain. Physically, you are still pushing the papers or the baby carriage but, emotionally and psychologically, you are gone, baby, gone.
Perhaps it's human nature to need this valve, this letting out of steam, stress and reality's harshness to find ourselves in softer, more enriching environments. Yet I can't help but think that part of our work here in reality is to learn to live inside this reality, fully, in ways that feel right to us.
Gazing into the eyes of your loved ones, breathing deeply at work so that the moment doesn't feel as much like a monster, calmly doing dishes and laundry and peacefully moving on to the groceries; the difficulty of enjoying and living fully in the moments of our real lives is so intense that it is really the most challenging exercise imaginable.
Fears of not measuring up can cause us to want to escape as can the opposite-- fears of being the only competent person in the room. Overwork and exhaustion can lead to escape fantasy behavior as can depression, loneliness and being treated badly.
As long as we realize when and why we're doing it, we can perhaps take some of the energy we put toward escaping into something else, maybe something connected to our lives or the lives of others, something about improving things or helping, reaching out or brainstorming about change.
The muscles we use to fantasize are the same ones used for creative thinking.