D is for Daydream

| April 8, 2014

I tend to daydream. A lot. My mind is always wandering off somewhere, recalling moments, imagining moments, planning for moments… Yesterday, I had specifically one very simple task: to check the weather on my phone with an app. Somehow, I ended up zoning out for three minutes before trying to remember what my original task had been in the first place. It suddenly occurred to me how this everyday occurrence is actually quite remarkable, once you recognize and think about it.

I recently read a book, Marcelo in the Real World, about a young man with an Asperger’s-like cognitive disorder who hears “internal music,” which is one of his beautiful, defining traits but also one that makes him of great interest to the other characters who, like most of us, don’t experience the experience of hearing music without actually hearing it. It started bringing to mind other aspects of experience that are generally atypical—such as hallucinations, or synesthesia. Although the majority of people may consider these ways of perceiving or these experiences to be unusual, different, strange, or perhaps even “not quite right,” there is an element of mysterious beauty to them, as well.

Then, of course, I realized that many of us daydream ALL THE TIME, and no one ever stops to point out that that is an unusual occurrence. We step outside of our present moment and are able to vividly walk down a trail of completely unrelated thoughts, often with accompanying internal images, sounds, or emotions– all within our minds. If this is something that is part of our everyday experience, why do we “other” those who simply seem to have stronger, alternative ways of experiencing what is not “really” there? What is to say they aren’t really there, in some way?

Is daydreaming the opposite of real experience? If we are no longer operating on the plane of the tangible, the sensory, the body, are we still experiencing? If we are only experiencing something within our daydreams or other internal perceptions, can it still be a part of our true experience of reality?

I feel as though the concept of “mindfulness,” or living consciously fully in the present moment, is one that is gaining much traction. I can definitely see its value, and even believe I may try to attend some sort of seminar about it (since, as I said, perhaps I daydream a little too often—although that kind of assumption may undermine the questions I’m even raising). However, I think there is something to be said about this other experience—the experience of the not-present, of the not-real, of the daydream—that speaks to creativity, imagination, and the ways in which our amazing brains can seam information together to lead us down alternative, unexpected paths.