I daydream my stories. While driving down the freeway, while walking the dog, while washing dishes, in the moments before sleep claims me, and the moments when whatever outwardly occupies me is not stimulating enough to engage me. At all of these times and many others, my inner landscape is populated with characters and imaginary storyboards and plot line crises and “what if” questions.
It was the most common complaint of teachers to my parents at parent-teacher meetings: “She daydreams”. My parents would dutifully report this to me without censure. If anything, they seemed mildly amused. And so I continued daydreaming. Many years later I found out that the same teacher complaint had been made of my Dad, a generation before me. Daydreaming, it seems, runs in the family, and for this I am grateful.
Sometimes the daydream begins with a key phrase or title line: “How the Cheetah Got His Tears”. How did the cheetah get his tears? I had no idea, but the line would not let go of me. Then one day, caught up in the inner moving pictures of my own daydreams, the stage set filled with the stately cheetah accompanied by other wildlife. As the characters came to life in my imagination, the problem between them – and its resolution – gradually unfolded.
When I sat down to record what had already played out in my daydreaming, the story wrote itself.
Vision, innovation, invention, and strategy are birthed from daydreaming. And ah yes, so also are stories and art and music.
But daydreaming is not self-limiting. Creative teaching and creative learning too, are its fruit. Education systems have largely made the mistake of regarding daydreaming as the opposite of concentration, not realizing that on the contrary, daydreaming is a highly focused form of concentration. Perhaps we should be encouraging it, rather than trying to “correct” it; harnessing it, instead of trying to shut it down. Perhaps we should facilitate our family members and friends and coworkers and students and employees in their daydreaming, and help them find outlets and avenues to give those daydreams expression.
Find out what stimulates your own daydreaming. For me it can be a number of things: listening to Mozart, walking on the beach, watching the dawn, working in the garden… I also know what shuts down my daydreaming: Not only the censure (or fear of it) of other people, but also watching too much television or spending too much time on the internet and social media – passive “activities” where “daydreams” are provided already packaged through an LED screen.
Once you have found your way back to daydreaming again, help someone else do the same. Let’s help to open up safe and unrestricted space for the dreamers and their daydreams in our homes, churches, schools,and workplaces. That’s my daydream!