I think it's a normal thing, but it's not something people talk about a lot so I only really know for sure that it's normal for me. It's been happening on a reasonably regular basis all my life, so that's normal, right?
I was a passionate kid. From an early age I remember struggling to contain my emotions, and my parents (who incidentally were awesome) spent a lot of time trying to help me learn how to deal with them, how to not alienate people with my *insert strong emotion here*. Tantrums? You betcha. Embarrassing mooning crushes? Totally. Pits of despair? Yep, those too. The upside of this being a seemingly boundless capacity for pleasure, joy and happiness.
Anyway, long story short, we have to learn to live in a world that isn't keen on expressions of emotion, right? We're supposed to be in control, curb our desires, deny our urges. Life is better that way, from an objective viewpoint. There are very few people who get to spend their lives pursuing their passions - this is a mantra I learned early, pretty much from the first moment I was told I couldn't be a high country musterer. Very few people get to be artists either - that being the other thing I wanted to do. So I accepted that I couldn't do these things, and settled for a life of selling my time in chunks for money. Eventually I found something I'm good at, that pokes my brain in the right places, and pays well enough to sustain a lifestyle that includes a significant amount of passion-pursuit and hedonism. Go me.
I don't really think any of this is abnormal - I think we all sacrifice our passions for the sake of objective success to a certain degree, and that's probably a good thing. I'm not into chaos in a big way, eh?
But every now and then I get this yearning feeling. It's really hard to describe.. I want.. something, something that's just out of reach and that I'll never be able to have, but that has my mind flying off into romantic fantasies of what if. By this I don't mean romance in the traditional sense - I'm not talking about tall dark handsome strangers here (this was never my fantasy to be honest), I mean the type of romantic fantasy that involves galloping on horses on windswept moors shooting fireballs, or nights of passion with multiple lovers of my own invention, and most of all being in a world where I'm not limited by thoughts of the future and how I must consider that in all things I do. In this fantasy world I can express those emotions fully and freely and not suffer the real-world consequences of them. I'm perfectly aware that it's all fantasy, but I get some kind of sustenance from occasionally indulging this in my mind, allowing it to run down those tracks until I can't remember where I started. During times when this is happening I often feel as if I'm about to explode, and the mundane world seems kind of dull by comparison. It's a bit like that first flush of being in love, and because I'm kind of obsessive by nature, it takes over my waking life somewhat. After a few days of this kind of yearning/fantasising, things go back to normal and I focus back on the things that are important to me according to my values.
In a world where I must repress my inner self in order to fit in, this kind of escapism, IMO, is healthy - like a valve to let off pent-up passion. I wonder if this is part of what writers do. I wonder if anybody else does this. I know I'm not particularly unique or special, and that other people also have an inner life, but the point is, people don't share their inner lives. We've been well trained not to, and we all know through bitter experience that most fantasies should stay fantasies - and expressing them somehow makes them real. But - mine seem pretty harmless, you know? So I'm in the camp that says "This is healthy and probably helps keep me sane" and indulges the fuck out of it.