I have always been a dreamer. Partly it is just noticing the little things, raindrops, shafts of sunlight, dust-motes, the fluttering of leaves, and partly it is being able to go on lovely little travels in my head when there is not much else going on. I can fly; I can dive deep into the oceans; I can shrink to the size of a ladybird; I can even time-travel.
My daughter recently lost her iPhone. She has a long bus-ride into school, and it forms a major part of her entertainment. Even when chatting to friends, a phone is an important part of the interaction: listening to music, showing photos and video, “searching it up”.
So I did wonder how she would cope in the week she didn’t have her phone.
“There is something called daydreaming.” I told her. “People used to do it long ago, in the olden days. You lean your head against the bus window, you gaze into the middle distance, and you just let your mind-”
“Mum, I know how to daydream. How do you think I get through the school day?”
“Really?” I said, utterly delighted and relieved. “I’m so proud of you!”
So the gentle art of daydreaming is not lost to future generations. We just need to make sure they have enough time being bored.
Of course, as adults, we must learn to hone our craft, so that it does not impair our work performance. I find that driving is one of my favourite times to dream. I know this sounds dangerous, but so far so good. Doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, train platforms, being on hold to phone companies: all safe places for a dose of dreaming.
There is one tip. If your mind takes you off on a journey you don’t want to take, say obsessing over past mistakes, or worrying about money, or work, or your children, then I have read that you should allow yourself a set time. Say a minute of the worst worrying you can do. Then when the time is up, or you have reached the end-of-worry traffic lights, that’s it, you can stop. You’ve done the hard work; now you can dream.
Dreaming will enhance your accidental creativity, allowing solutions to pop into your mind when you least expect them. Honestly. I have my best ideas on the A28.
But do remember that this is process and not product. There is no point to daydreaming. That’s the point. It is purely for pleasure.
If you need some help to get you started, then here are a few ideas.
- Reversals. Take two things and turn them around. Say birds and bees. Imagine that birds are the size of butterflies, and butterflies are the size of birds. Imagine having little birds flying around in the house, and landing on your finger! Imagine grass is blue and the sky is green. Imagine birds had scales and fish had feathers. If nothing else, this exercise shows you that nature knows best.
- Town Planning. How would you transform your surroundings? If you were a town-planner, what would you build? How would you solve transport problems? If you reversed development or returned things to their natural state, what would it look like? I like to suck up rubbish in a giant vacuum cleaner attached to my car.
- Superpowers. You are invisible, or you can fly. You have really stretchy arms, or you can turn to liquid. Or anything else you might like. What are you going to do with your super power? Will other people know about it or will you have a secret persona? I was Wonder Woman when I was a child. It was brilliant.
- Bodies are brilliant. I have a morbid fear of medical procedures. I first fainted when I had my rubella jab at 11 years’ old, and just the smell of antiseptic wipes makes me feel nauseous. Recently, I read a blog post by someone who has to have a lot of procedures. She focuses on the wonder of the human body. She approaches it with curiosity. Something clicked in me. I’m not saying that I am cured, but it made me remember that I used to love watching operations on tv, and I love simulations of brain activity, or cell bodies. It is all pretty amazing. Even fainting is quite amazing, when you think about it.
- Scale. I have already mentioned that I would like to be really small. Like Old Mrs Pepperpot, who used to inconveniently shrink (to the size of a pepperpot). Life was so exciting! She could fly on the back of a bird, or hitch a lift with a frog. Imagine what you would see! The other day I was showing our children pictures of insects under an electron microscope, and then parts of flowers! Imagine if you could see this stuff all the time! Yesterday we watched The Theory of Everything, about Stephen Hawking. He saw the universe in his coffee! Imagine if you could see stars being born just by daydreaming! These pics at NASA might help.
- Where you want to go. In life. I know this is a biggie. What do you want to spend your time doing? How can you do more of it? You as you are now, not you with the perfect body, or the perfect partner, or the perfect house. Imagine yourself leading your life with more of that joy in it. What would you be doing? How would it make you feel? What would you like about yourself? Imagining is the first step to doing.
- We have solved the problem. Imagine that one of the world’s current problems is completely solved. There is no more plastic waste. We have solved Brexit. There is a capable black woman in charge at the White House. Now what? What is the world like now? What are the ripples from that? How will it affect your family? Work? Mood? Just go with it. Why not? I used to think that if you fantasised about something it might stop it happening. This is a waste of pleasure! Liberate yourself from the confines of the impossible. As Sheldon Cooper might say, it is improbable, not impossible.
Have you got any day-dreaming tips? What do you like to day-dream about? Where and when are you most likely to day-dream? Has day-dreaming led to change in your life? I love hearing from you, so don’t be shy.
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