I dream about the island of Malta often. It is a pleasant dream with nighttime feelings of magic, sparkly lights, and stone palaces. I remember very little of our visit there when I was six years old, but I do remember that I was with both of my parents, one of the few memories I have of us all as a complete family. Those little snippets of memory are always pleasant.
I also dream a lot about looking for a place to live. I often find myself in places where I have actually lived in the past, looking through homes that are compilations of real and imagined dwellings. Those dreams almost always end with me not really being able to live in that particular place, or me running away in fear from some unknown pursuer.
I started a post on being a dreamer a week ago. It is still sitting in my drafts. I was such a daydreamer when I was little that I believe my childhood memories are not dependable. If I was sitting in the backseat of a car, traveling with my family through Europe (which we did), I might have been looking outward at the scenery, or I might have been looking inward, in my own head, daydreaming about something I heard or saw or felt. I think sometimes the real landscape would get worked into my daydreams, just like real sounds (music or an alarm) can be incorporated into actual dreams.
I don’t daydream anymore. And I think that is a tragedy.
I read an article recently, where I cannot remember, about how daydreaming can result in great breakthroughs for workers. Some companies allow up to 20% of paid time to be spent doing non-work-related activities: gaming, writing, reading, playing Foosball, and freelance projects. Productivity in such places is high, studies have found (sorry, I don’t know which studies, and this isn’t a research paper so I’m not going to search — this is all from memory).
I wonder if mid-life crises are the unconscious mind’s attempt to recapture the benefits of daydreaming, with the acting out the vehicle for its accomplishment. All I know is that I often drive my car with the radio off just so I can think my own thoughts. And, I believe one reason I love gardening so much is that it is quiet, there are no sounds of electricity or music or notifications from Facebook or email software or messaging applications, and I can truly relax.
But I still don’t really daydream.
There is something therapeutic about disconnecting from external stimuli with a goal of allowing the brain to think whatever it likes. I wonder if there is a way to tap into that daydreaming part of my brain again. Or did I kill it by being too practical and serious and responsible for so long? Is it simply dormant or hidden away awaiting rediscovery?
I chuckle thinking about the adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” I think about how dreamers have been treated by cultures, past and present: social, political and religious. It is dangerous when people start thinking for themselves, imagining that the world could be different. So very dangerous.
I think I might go sit in my garden and do nothing for a little while. I am going to see if I can force myself to daydream again. You never know what might happen.