I was a pragmatic little kid. My parents were brilliant creative genius types, but those rarely make the best parents. I’m older than my sister, so I took care of both of us. I wasn’t the kind of kid to sit around daydreaming. Every spare moment, I spent reading. I read everything and anything I could find, buy, borrow, steal or smuggle. And I was taught from an early age to live in this moment, here and now. To be mindfully aware of what was happening and to live there in that moment. Daydreaming wasn’t something I did.
I fought my way through high school, working 2 jobs all the way through college. Then I had a home, babies, jobs and life to deal with. Who had time for daydreams? I didn’t.
I used to think that daydreams were for bored, idle minds. People with nothing better to read or to do. People who longed for the past or something they couldn’t have. Daydreamers didn’t appreciate this moment, now. I didn’t understand the vacuous faces and faraway looks.
My kids, they’re daydreamers. I often look over to see one of them thoughtfully twirling a lock of hair around a finger, staring off into space, clearly lost in a daydream. And I’ve come to realize that daydreaming is an important part of the creative mind. It’s not unhealthy or evasive; normal daydreaming is a way for the mind to be clear and focused on something that interests you.
When I ask my girls what they’re thinking of, they’ll normally say, “Nothing, really.” Is there a more annoying reply in all the land? But it doesn’t matter what they’re thinking about; what matters is that they have the luxury of a childhood that encouraged healthy, creative daydreaming.
For the first time in my life, I’m not working “outside the home.” Please don’t mistake that for not working- I work my ass off. But I’ve found myself daydreaming. Looking out into the backyard and thinking about …nothing, really.
But it’s not nothing. It’s everything.
I think about people, places, the past, the future. I come up with ideas, themes, thoughts and goals. Sometimes I daydream about a treehouse in Belize, with a hammock and a rum drink. Sometimes it’s a firepit in the back yard near the badminton court. It doesn’t matter.
I realize that, as a writer, I’ve been daydreaming all along. I simply do it with my fingers, with letters and words. With a pen or a keyboard instead of a curl of hair around my finger.
I think we all daydream, in some way. I think it must be necessary, else we’d go mad.
Which may explain a few things.