Daydreaming. Mind wandering. Escapism. Call it what you will, but the mind does have a tendency to escape present confines fairly regularly
Vinita Dawra Nangia
Driving through heavy rain, I was arrested by the sight of a man dancing with vigour and certain panache in the middle of the road. He was obviously not quite with us, executing graceful twists and bowing to an audience visible just to his eyes. And yet, his exuberance was infectious and made passers-by smile.
Lost in a world of his own, he could rise above present circumstance and dwell in a reality that uplifted him.
This poor man was deranged and had his own demons to fight. Madness, even feigned as with Hamlet, gives us an excuse to escape reality and act at will. But even without that excuse, don’t we all seek escape from present circumstance and find solace in a world where thoughts become a reality that is more appealing than what surrounds us?
Daydreaming. Mind wandering. Escapism. Call it what you will, but the mind does have a tendency to escape present confines fairly regularly. Have you noticed how sometimes while engaged in familiar tasks, such as driving on a familiar route or eating, you lose track of time and are for a while unaware of what happened around you as your mind wanders? Yes, it happens to all of us. Psychologists have estimated that we daydream for one-third, or even half our waking hours!
Disconnecting for a while from reality is a need we all feel. And, what better way than creating a world away from reality with the help of imagination? A world that shapes up just the way we want it to? To become a weaver of dreams, build a suspension of disbelief, and so get away from everyday drudgery? All you could ever want can be yours – in that dream world you spin for yourself.
We do it all the while even without realizing. Have you never been pulled up in a meeting for daydreaming? Don’t you indulge in some dreaming while on a walk or in the middle of a mundane task? Have you never been horrified to catch yourself thinking of a presentation during an intimate moment!
A good book or movie too has the power to transport you to another world so that you land on your feet with a thud when it ends! Recent research quoted in US journal Science, reveals that “daydreaming is the brain’s normal state, rather than a pointless distraction!”
Most creative people – writers, artists, poets, thinkers – report their most inspiring moments during bouts of daydreaming. It is only when we give free rein to our imagination that we let go of limitations like fact and reason – what Keats termed as “negative capability” – the ability to hold onto a beautiful truth even if it doesn’t stand to reason. That’s what imagination helps us achieve – you always aim high and think big while daydreaming.
Would you believe, daydreaming, which gives the brain a much-needed break, is also used as a therapy in conflict management? Dreamers have better relationships because they tend to concentrate more on the better moments in a relationship.
But, as it happens with most joyous activities in life, more often than not we are made to feel guilty for even daydreaming! But, what if it’s these moments of escape that give you your day’s highpoints? What if this detachment from reality gives you your reasons to live?
So long as you don’t hurt anyone, why not just indulge? Just be careful not to dream so hard it erodes the distinction between dream and reality, thus toppling you over to the side of the man dancing in the rain!