I believe in daydreams.
Not Dreams, with a capital D. Those are lofty and seemingly unattainable archetypes of positive thinking, heralded by golden trumpets and championed by high-school guidance counselors. They are rare gifts that have been cheapened by motivational posters and have become synonymous with Goals and Plans.
Instead, I believe in the little, creeping fantasies that gnaw at the edges of our subconscious minds during the slowest meeting, the endless math class, the silent hours between midnight and dawn. They follow us constantly, trailing off into space like bubbles from a purple plastic wand. As the physical body casts a visible shadow, the mind leaves behind a stream of thought that lingers in the air – present, yet intangible.
I have considered myself a professional daydreamer since the first grade. While the others were busy learning how to spell “cat” and “bat” and “rat” and my body was slumped numbly in its desk, my mind soared away into the cosmos. There, I fed the skinny boy next to me who stole my crayons to a giant Komodo dragon. I named the C-A-T Persephone and crowned the R-A-T Prince Wallingford the Ugly, eighty-seventh in line for the throne. Time and time again my mind was dragged forcibly back to the classroom by a quiet reprimand.
I soon learned that daydreaming, though pleasant, is not very productive. While my private consciousness eddies and swirls along, the outside world races past. Although I may be busy shrinking myself down the size of a quark, deadlines still go whizzing by with the same astonishing speed of the electrons I am riding like rodeo bulls. Therefore, the most important, most difficult, and saddest rules of daydreaming are moderation and self-control.
Yet daydreams are plentiful, and a truly open mind hates to be chained. Repressing the urge to disappear into darkest Peru the night before a midterm exam feels something like wrestling a baby elephant. The impulse to doodle a new design for a jet-propelled office chair seems just as tempting as Eve’s apples. Nevertheless, the mundane tasks (namely, all those that don’t involve snow leopards with Scottish accents) must be completed; but at least they can be performed with artistic flair and boundless creativity.
In daydreams, the world is utterly transformed, and it is irresistible.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.