You could say my life is characterised by dreaming. And until recently that was something I felt embarrassed about.
I am a dreamer. Not the socio-political dreams of a Martin Luther King Jr but daydreaming. No, I wasn’t the kid in class who didn’t pay attention (another stereotype bites the dust) but I daydreamed to the rhythm of swings, imagined other worlds while I puddled in the creek at the bottom of the hill where my childhood home stands, and read, read, read. I have long enjoyed the world of my thoughts and the ‘what ifs’, and I cultivate dream sleep. I’m not into lucid dreaming, just imagining, letting my mind float, wondering.
Why did this embarrass me? We live in a culture that says we’re meant to be usefully busy, achieving tangible goals, making a difference. We’re told not to waste time, have nothing to show for it, or be ‘so heavenly-minded we’re no earthly good’ as an acquaintance once described me to a friend.
There was also reading guilt, grown, I suppose, out of the many times my mother called me and I’d ‘just finish the chapter’ two chapters later.
In my fifties now, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I’m not likely to achieve anything in this world that makes people think, ‘Wow, she made a difference’. No more than the next person, at any rate. And, to be honest, I don’t think my imagination is going to take the reading world by storm either. So how can I justify being a dreamer?
I don’t have to. It’s just what I am and that’s okay. I dream for the same reasons I write – to understand myself and to enjoy story. Dreaming isn’t all I do but it’s an important part of what I do, even if it doesn’t change the world or make me look like an asset to the neighbourhood. And maybe something more will come of it, when a story or a poem emerges that others enjoy too.
What about you? Do you like to daydream? Do you have other ways of challenging the ‘must look busy’ mentality of our culture?