Day 58. Daydreaming’s Good

Most people would never admit that they daydream.  We believe we have to always be productive.  So we’re afraid that if we tell people that we daydream, they’ll think less of us.  They’ll think we’re silly.  Immature.  Lazy and unfocussed.  That we’re time-wasters. Procrastinators.  That we never get anything done.

But I read in a New Yorker article that psychologists and neuroscientists believe that “mind-wandering is an essential cognitive tool.  That a daydream is like a fountain spurting, spilling strange new thoughts into the stream of consciousness.  And that these spurts are surprisingly useful.”

A WebMD feature I found, said that “daydreaming can be beneficial in many ways and can, actually, boost productivity.  It can also boost creativity.”

So I feel vindicated.  Because I daydream all the time.  I’ve been doing it since I was a child.  I do it every day.  It helps me relax.  It clears my head.  It’s liberating.  It’s fun.  I imagine all kinds of scenarios.  Some are about my writing, others about my career, in advertising.  Some are about professions I’ve never given a moment’s thought to.

Still others are about how I feel.  How I’d look as a brunette.  If I was Italian, or American or from somewhere in Latin America.  If I was thirty again. Or a teenager.  From a different century.  From the future.

I daydream about relationships.  Love.  Grief.  Concerns.  Separations.  Hopes.  Real people and those I make up.  Where I live.  How I live.  What it would be like to live elsewhere, in another city, in another country.  What I’d do.  Who I’d know.  What languages I’d speak.  I think about the characters in books I’ve read, and movies I’ve seen; and what it would be like to know them.  Not the actors.  The characters.  I imagine the story lines I’d create for the TV shows I watch.  And whether or not there’d be a role for me.

My mind wanders regardless of where I am.  At my desk.  In the subway.  At a restaurant.  At home.  In the shower.  Laying down.  Standing up.  Never if I’m driving.  But I have been known to try to escape excruciatingly boring meetings by imagining I’m anywhere else.  And what a blessed relief it is, to be able to transport myself from the tedium of that boardroom (more like bored room) to a crowded bazaar in Marrakesh, or a ‘live aboard’ in the Great Barrier Reef, or a tiny, clapboard cottage in Maine.

Or, at a fabulous dinner party, where I’m joined by Richard Burton, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Gertrude Stein, Modigliani, the Dalai Lama, Bill Maher and Annie Liebovitz (it’s a fantasy, so it doesn’t matter if they’re dead, alive or all from different eras).  What a group that would be!  And then I wonder what we’d talk about, how late we’d stay and who’d be the first to get drunk (not me, hopefully).

Personally I think it would be a toss up between Richard Burton and Modigliani, but I’ll have to get back to you on that.  I know, I know, you want to know how Richard Burton and Annie fit into this crowd.  I’d want photographs, wouldn’t you?  I love her photography, she’d get some wonderful candid shots.  Black and White, I think.  And Burton?  Well, I’ve always loved the sound of his voice, his incredible blue eyes; and, well, I’m a sucker for bad boys.

Occasionally I even re-visit some of my favourite musings, but I change them up.  Like revising a script, or a story.  Which is, really, exactly what I’m doing.  Which is why it’s okay.  Which is why I know I’m not mad.  I’m a writer.  It’s a great way to try out different stories, different angles, different situations.  It’s a great way to meet the people I’ll write about someday.  To develop their personalities, their strengths and their weaknesses.  Their reactions to the events taking place around them.  To figure out what they’ll say.  And do.  How they’ll behave under different circumstances.

That’s it!  My daydreams are really dress rehearsals for my stories, and books, and blogs, and articles, and commercials.  And who knows?  Maybe even my own life.  Stay tuned.

The last time I imagined myself meeting with Oprah she couldn’t wait to read my book.  So enough of the blogging.  I have two chapters to finish!

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