the importance of daydreaming

I’ve begun to realize that, somewhere on my way to adulthood, I’ve lost the ability to daydream. Well, that may not be right. I probably still have the ability. It’s just that I haven’t really taken the time to sit and think and dream about things the way I used to, and I’m not sure how that happened.

I used to be a dreamer, as a child and even into my twenties. I don’t know when it tapered off exactly. I would be filled with imagination and dreams of adventure, daydreaming of elves in the woods (J.R.R. Tolkien), doorways into other worlds (C.S. Lewis), pirate ships (J.M. Barrie), wizards (Diana Wynne Jones, not J. K. Rowling) and making up my own stories as I went. It didn’t matter that I would only be going to the grocery store with my mom, or going on a walk around the neighborhood. It always seemed like adventure was just over the horizon. I don’t believe that imagination and dreaming is just for children. And I’ve always loved myths fairy tales, no matter my age.

Have I stopped dreaming because of the onset of adulthood, paying rent and utility bills and buying groceries? Am I too addicted to my phone? Is this device robbing me of my creativity? Am I stuck in a rut with my life, with everything too comfortable and each day pretty much the same? Or am I just severely out of practice with writing for pleasure? I ask these questions honestly, because I don’t know the answer. I want to know the answer… I rather suspect that it could be a combination of all of these things.

I have hobbies, of course. I paint and sculpt, though I don’t draw much anymore. I look after my plants and fish, and I read for pleasure all the time. I’m working and going to school as well, so it’s not like I’m sitting around with nothing to do. But maybe I just need a change of pace. Maybe I need to start writing stories again, just for fun.

If you’re wondering why I’m wondering about this, about something that may seem trivial in an ordinary, adult life… The trigger was The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I’ve only just barely begun reading it, so I can’t tell you yet what I think of it. I don’t know that I’ll agree with all of it, and that’s okay; at least it’s making me think.

Truthfully, I don’t want to be ordinary. I want to do something great, something important. I don’t know what, yet. I want to do something that matters to me, and that has an impact on other people’s lives. I want my life to have a purpose, something that goes beyond making an art project or writing a blog post. So, maybe while I’m trying to figure out the daydream problem, I’ll also figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I tend to believe that the things that mattered to me when I was younger may have a clue to what would be meaningful to me now. Wish me luck, and if you’re on a similar journey, I hope you find what you’re looking for too.

(Also, watch this video. Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech.)

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