Monday, August 8, 2011

Magical Thinking

From time to time, people ask Matron key life questions:

"How do you maintain the same weight for thirty years?"

"What do you do to escape?"

"How do you handle anger?"

"Why do you fear death?"

Conveniently -- and perhaps quite unusually -- the Matron has a single answer for all four of these vital queries.

Her brain.

Weight? The Matron is an avid exercise devotee. This is no secret. She rises at an early hour, hits the elliptical or the streets. Then she stretches, lifts weights. The outside actions are obvious, but it is that internal driver, the motivation to get up when it's still dark and to pound the pavement or pads until spent -- that's the key. No, it's not just a drive toward health or figure, but the sheer unadulterated pleasure of spending time alone with HER BRAIN.

You see, while the Matron exercises, she indulges in Magical Thinking. During her exercise sessions, she wins the lottery. This started out as a paltry one million; now she's up to 350 million -- a truly staggering, limitless amount of cash that would allow her to achieve fame by being the BIGGEST lottery winner and have the capacity to solve most of the world's problems.

In her mind, she dishes out that money, million by million. There's a running list of what relatives would get, how much each kid inherits, what the new houses will cost, the foundation she will start and how she personally will feed most of the starving children. You ask how she can run four to five miles daily?

Friends, who wants to walk away from 350 million dollars? Because that lush fantasy -- so real, so perfected, so coddled and carefully fostered -- ends the minute her run does.

Escape? Why, here's where the brain brings her fame and leisure. She posits herself in exotic places she has never seen (exotic to her of course and not the people who actually live there): China, India, Hawaii, Spain. In each, she sets herself up in some stunning residence that generally involves solitude and a library. In these voyages, she is a World Famous Writer. Manuscripts drip off of her fingers during her three hours of writing time each morning. The rest of the day she reads.

Sometimes, often, in the midst of such fantasy, she is pulled back to the Real World. It is genuinely painful.

Anger? Easy. She makes things (and people) explode. Car cuts off the Matronly mini-van (with its ironic peace sign)? She imagines the offending vehicle spontaneously combusting. Fenders, headlights, doors, seats: BOOM. The entire thing in flames with lots of special effects and soaring parts. People, institutions, buildings, letters, legal systems are all at risk. Boom.

Sorry, innocent bystanders.

And then the death thing. . . the Matron's brain brings her much joy, mental health (well, sort of) solitude, pleasure and entertainment. It pains her to realize that she will leave such riches all behind.

Indeed, that thought requires an immediate trip to Barcelona. Lovely how she can visit there while snuggled in bed.