Some speculate that the nation got hooked on Martha Stewart because she offered a fantasy about how life could be lived. Anyone who watched her spend so much time creating a holiday wreath from scratch could enter into a world in which people had the time, interest, and money to do that. For that 20 or so minutes I was part of all that.
Now, I'm getting a hunch that so many of us continue to devote our time and our $6 (in Connecticut) on Sundays to consume THE NEW YORK TIMES for that same kind of fantasy. We, who were brought up in immigrant households with too many children, can project ourselves into a state of being in which that one child to come into the lives of the couple on the upper west side will dominate their public affairs for the nine months of pregnancy and forever more.
We hang onto their every reflection about seeing the arms and legs on a sonogram and then showing those arms and legs to the grandparents who spend half their retirement in a villa in France and half in Boca Raton, Florida. Since it's a girl we sit transfixed at how the grandmother spends paragraphs musing on passing along her grandmother's ring to the newest addition to the tribe. When her daughter hears about this her eyes fill with tears and the husband is quite near that.
This account is a composite of those kinds of what I perceive to be emotionally indulgent chronicles in THE NEW YORK TIMES. I could have provided other versions of lives also so different from mine. There is the financially so comfortable man who can settle into protracted grief about losing his mother who died near age 100. He treats us to his afternoon going through her stuff. This, I assume, is supposed to move us to identify with this kind of loss which left a hole that will never be able to be filled.
Of course, fantasy is a need for all human beings who are determined to remain centered and pushing forward, no matter what. It starts with Santa. Then there is the meme about reaching for the stars. That is followed by inspiration about the joy of the journey, including getting lost. Those are necessary fictions.
The choice we have is which one we choose to invest in. Every Sunday morning, I go through the angst of deciding whether to stick with THE NEW YORK TIMES version of a reality or sample a spiritual group such as The Quakers or Buddhists for the narrative they construct about life.