I have a confession-I am a daydreamer…an obsessive one at that. I’ve thought about this for awhile…because my imagination wouldn’t let me ignore it.
I think you can put daydreaming on some kind of a spectrum where on the left side you have daydreamers who spend daydreaming time in more of a contemplation of something-like the Wright Brothers trying to figure out how to get a human being to fly like a bird – and on the far right of the spectrum, you have folks with such a vivid imagination that dialogue and scenes are playing on some movie screen inside of their minds. Perhaps just to the right of that spot on the spectrum, one falls off into the world of schizophrenia. Maybe that is why I’ve have learned a deeper compassion for those who struggle with mental illness. Truth is, I’ve been there myself. Though it is a place where one can see themselves almost inside-out, I wouldn’t recommend it as a place of permanent residence. I still live on the far right-side though never again wanting to go beyond. Track #7 on my next album (which won’t be ready until 2017) is titled Make Believe and its seed idea was how much in common we daydreamers have with the schizophrenic fellows who wanders the street when not taking their medication. Eckhart Tolle dropped that little seed in my mind with his book, A New Earth.
Being an obsessive daydreamer is not a major problem for me now except for an occasional “attack” at night where my imagination won’t stay quiet and it is usually because it has something to tell me…such as, it is time you understood your imagination! If I am engaged with normal responsibilities, my daydreams now stay in their place. I have always had an active imagination. I saw a psychiatrist once-that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read this blog or listened to my songs- and he told me that research has demonstrated that toddlers who are removed from their biological mothers struggle with many things including intimacy. That is what happened to me. I wish I could go back into my infant’s mind and see what I made of all that emotional commotion. I was certainly loved in my new crib. (Hey look, I am downplaying it which I will discuss in the next sentence.) I know, from personal experience, that daydreaming can replace intimacy-the sharing of oneself. I have watched many artists share their daydreams through their art, but become very withdrawn in front of an actual person, especially if that person compliments the artists or tries to dig deeper into the art or the artist.
The other night I shared with my wife a rough cut of track #8 for the 2nd album I’ve been recording. After listening, she said, “That is a very sad song. Who is it about?” This type of question always bothers me because, well, it requires an intimate answer. You see us daydreamers aren’t even all that comfortable being intimate with ourselves. Usually songs I write start with a basic idea and then grow into whatever they want to be – or is that really true? Unfortunately, I don’t know. I know a line I wrote for A Church In Mexico “getting dirty from the soap” was about being a child of divorce – on one level, and about getting messed up by things that are supposed to help you (religion,love) on another level, and on yet another level is about masturbation. That is kind of heavy stuff for a person who struggles with intimacy, don’tcha think?
As a child I would spend hours in solitary play with my toy soldiers, baseball glove, or whatever was handy at the time. I would develop rich and complicated scenarios and act them out until someone came into the room in which then I would try to hide my make believe activities. I am pretty certain that they knew what I was doing since I was usually on top of my bed/boat/mountain/burning building/monster with my arms flailing as the mind-script called for at the time. Where Mr.Tolle does a wonderful job in A New Earth at explaining the benefits of being present in the moment, I think there is also something to be said about leaving the present and doing some daydreaming exploration. The question is “How do you do it without leaving the intimacy of the present?” Perhaps this is another one of those Yen and Yang things? Being present in the moment is complimented by letting our thoughts fly, free to create another reality. Beats me. I will have to wait for Mr. Tolle’s next book. (By the way, I am very thankful to Mr. Tolle for writing that book. It helped me immensely.)
It does seem to me that the daydreamers of our world have created some wonderful things and moments for the world. All the great characters of history were daydreamers. They saw a new reality while others laughed at their crazy ideas. From Noah to NASA – the stories of daydreamers have created our greatest accomplishments in the sciences and in the arts and humanities. Maybe what we need to do is to teach our children to daydream even more. If we could embrace their imaginative world while getting them to share their visions and voices, maybe intimacy would not have to be sacrificed. Daydreaming wouldn’t be viewed as an activity for the crazies, especially after our childhood.
I don’t see my daydreaming coming to an end anytime soon. It is when I become judgmental of my daydreams that I face writers’ block and become hyper-critical of my latest song. I even seem to lose my self-confidence in my non-daydreaming responsibilities of life. John Lennon wrote “Please don’t wake me, don’t shake me, leave me where I am, I’m only sleeping… Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away
And after all I’m only sleeping.”
I wish you all marvelous daydreams along with the courage to be intimate with those dreams… and the rest of us dreamers.