Let me tell you about a dream I had. I described it to my partner and she said it sounded like my ‘own little prison.’
Here’s what it was like.
I was a wealthy industrialist of some kind and I lived in a gigantic tower block which had been built by my own company. It was unclear what, precisely, my business did, but that didn’t really seem to matter.
The top floor of the building – the penthouse suite, was mine. It was my living space from which I never emerged. In fact, the dream made it clear I had not been seen in public for a good decade or so.
The room contained everything I needed. It was open-plan and there was a bed, wall to wall shelves with books, music and films, computers, a kitchen, wardrobe and anything else you could possibly imagine. There was not a single thing you could wish for which was not in some way present or represented.
There was even a ladder going up on to the roof so I could get fresh air any time I wanted. There was even a telescope so I could look out over the city and watch the people as they came and went or the stars at night.
Very few people were allowed on to my floor. The day to day running of the company was left to trusted agents while I signed off on various things as and when required. I was a benevolent boss, looking after my people, paying them well and ensuring they were happy in their work. I gave them plenty of leisure time and the building was a happy place with plenty of activities and parties to keep everyone content. Nobody worked more than a few hours a day giving them plenty of time to occupy themselves in whatever way they wished the rest of the time.
I took no part in their day to day lives however. My wishes were communicated via my agents who took care of all practical things while I spent my time engaged in whatever I wished. Reading, writing, learning, relaxing, anything that took my fancy. I was as near as a human could be to the god of the deists, a dispassionate creator who took no practical involvement in the doings of his creations. Except I was more active than this would suggest, since I did in fact ensure my people’s complete happiness – provided I never had to interact with any of them.
And so, when I told my partner about my huge open-plan living space / office / inner sanctum which none but a handful were ever allowed to see, she described it as my own personal prison. But as I pointed out, a prison can be a fortress and a fortress, a prison. It all depends on what side of the walls one is standing and the purpose for the walls in the first place.
As a confirmed introvert, one who finds interaction draining and difficult even with those I trust, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of such a fantasy, a self-contained world in which the standard burdens of life are removed and there is no need for guilt since my rulership of the world was nothing but benign.
The model of inspiration for my fantasy would seem to be Howard Hughes, but in reality it’s more Greta Garbo. And perhaps , like her, it’s not that I want to be alone. Merely that most of the time – I wish to be left alone.