How often do you fantasize about living different lives?
I don’t mean the kind of fantasy where you’re married to some generous, hot, good-hearted billionaire who funds your Louboutin habit. I mean the ones that are a little more down to earth. These are the fantasies that seem like they could happen—if only you would just make that big, life-changing decision!—but really would never happen because you’re not cut out for the accompanying lifestyle.
And I know some of you are thinking that fantasies about marrying into wealth or getting rich via high-end prostitution are exactly the kind of fantasies I’m describing here, and I guess yeah, for some, they are. Ok. I stand corrected. Anyway.
When I say fantasies about living different lives, what I’m thinking of are things like: quitting your job to move the countryside, where you own a cute little farm and subsist not off The Man, but off the sweat of your honest-to-goodness, hardworking brow; or maybe you’re an independent floriculturist, living somewhere tropical and beautiful, where you grow expensive peonies for glitzy clients around the world and develop your own perfumes. That sort of thing.
Lucretius, who lived from something like 99-55 BCE, wrote a (very long) poem titled On the Nature of Things. In it, he wrote of rich Roman city-dwellers: “His carriage whirls him away to his country house; but no sooner has he crossed the threshold than he starts to yawn, and either seeks forgetfulness in sleep or hurries back to the city again. But it is himself that he is trying to escape."
I don’t know if I’m trying to escape myself when I fantasize about living and working in other places, but I do think about career lifestyles that seem nice and pleasant that I will never have. I won't have them because ultimately, their niceness and pleasantness comes with a lot of other baggage, and I'm just not here for that. Here are a few of those fantasies:
1. Living on a tiny farm in the countryside
Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up surrounded by nature, with little to occupy yourself other than taking care of your animals, collecting eggs from your chickens, grazing your dairy cattle, and cultivating goat cheese (yum)? You could while away your spare time by painting, cooking elaborate meals, and breathing clean, countryside oxygen. Life would be simpler, healthier, and better. Sign me up!
Why it would never happen: Running a farm, even a tiny one, is hard work. So few people realize this! It’s not just feeding animals and, like, making sure your chickens don’t get eaten by foxes. Animal health complications, making sure/hoping your crops don’t get destroyed by the weather or any other of the millions of things out there, running a business… it’s all a lot of stress and work. Also, what if you want chicken for dinner? You going to get it from your farm, or make a trip to the nearest town’s grocery store because you can’t bear to kill one of your animals?
Also, I currently work a 9-5 and regularly hit the snooze button in the morning. Getting up at 4:30 every morning to start “work” would literally kill me.
2. Owning a cute little late-night cafe where friends and family spend quality time together.
This fantasy is a holdover from my childhood. One of my favourite mangas was Tokyo Mew Mew, a story about a troupe of young female superheroes who fought aliens and worked at a café. I loved the idea of having a quiet space that served as a place for friends to relax, chat, drink tea, and eat cake. And I still do! Especially since I love baking. I’d spend all day in the kitchen, supplying board games for people, designing afternoon tea menus, and enjoying a peaceful existence.
Why it would never happen: I’ve worked a number of customer service jobs, including one at a café. I am completely aware of the realities of owning and running one. No way in hell would I ever.
3. Traveling the world, writing about food
Getting paid to travel around the world to write about different food cultures sounds amazing! It’s basically three of my favourite pastimes rolled into one great job.
I can just imagine the following exchange:
DEAR FRIEND: Hey Miriam, want to hang out this Saturday?
ME: I’d love to, dear friend, but I’ll actually be in Hokkaido eating nikujaga that day. How about the following weekend?
Why it would never happen: It would cost a lot of money and vacation days to do on my own. If it was my job, that’d also be cool, but that genuinely feels inconceivable. A girl can dream, right?
4. Being a psychopomp.
Because it would be cool.
Why it would never happen: Seems like something you have to be born into.
5. Growing a vegetable garden.
Growing a small vegetable garden on my patio sounds the most realistic of all my fantasies. Maybe that’s why one day, I plan to do it. I love the idea of cooking roasted bell peppers and zucchini that I've grown myself.
Why it would never happen (this year): I try to be realistic about setting goals for myself, and right now, growing a garden isn’t in my budget, nor is it something I want to prioritize over other time-consuming goals. As much as I want a little garden of my own, I know it’s a lot of love, time, money, and work—especially for someone who has no experience. So… 2019: thinking of you, little garden.
6. Honourable Mention: Mattress Demonstrator
This is a long dead fantasy, but between the ages of 11 and 17, my ideal career was to be a person who slept on the mattresses in store displays. (Actually, my ideal career was a comic strip artist, but mattress demonstrator was a close second.) I loved sleeping, and wanted to get paid to do something I was going to do anyway.
Even back then, I knew there was no such thing as a mattress demonstrator. I mean, most people would rather test out the mattresses themselves, rather than watch someone else get a good day’s sleep. Still, the fantasy persisted late into my teens.
Why it would never happen: The job doesn’t exist. Also, I don’t want to sleep all day anymore.
7. Honourable Mention: Mushroom House.
When I was a seven, I fantasized about being a tiny person who lived in a mushroom in a forest. The mushroom, on the inside, would be outfitted to be a perfectly functioning human house, with electricity and running water, and probably a fridge. I could roast a single acorn and that would feed me for a whole day. I could wander amongst tall leaves and large pebbles, saying hello to to small furry woodland creatures. Of course, I would carry a protective shield to ward off vicious bugs, and when I returned home to my mushroom house, mine would be one of many in a small community of fungi.
Why it would never happen: Don’t need to explain this one.
So, what about you? Do you have any fantasies that you’re never going to go for (and maybe for good reason)? Any weird childhood fantasies that make you smile when you remember them?