Daydream believer

As a child I constantly got into trouble for daydreaming, especially in school. Somehow imagining faraway places, picturing myself in grand adventures, or dreaming of what I would someday become as an adult were all far more appealing than conquering lists of spelling words or math questions. The problem reached new heights in Grade 7, when I happened to be seated next to the window. I couldn’t help but drift away into my private world, only to be called back into reality by the teacher. Much to my embarrassment and the amusement of my peers, she was fond of saying, “Earth to Heidi. Come in Heidi. Where are you?”

Eventually she moved me to a desk near the chalkboard and away from any view of the outdoors. I’m not sure it helped much. Imagination can’t be confined by interior walls. But I mastered the art of looking as if I were paying attention, even when I was off on some mental fieldtrip. Around that same age I recall having vivid, sometimes terrifying dreams at night, as well as a few incidents of sleepwalking. It seems all of this is common for early adolescence.

Some psychologists suggest that the average person spends 47 percent of the day on “mind wandering.” It’s a normal and necessary part of processing the stream of information, stimuli and experiences of life. Daydreaming was once frowned upon as laziness and the inability to focus, but modern researchers affirm that in moderation it’s actually beneficial for creativity and problem solving.

At times in my life, especially as a young mother, I didn’t have much downtime. Family life, farming, church and school commitments kept me running morning until night with few opportunities to actually assimilate what was going on. Non-stop activity sapped my strength. Random thoughts would pile up like unopened mail, eventually causing a sense of restlessness and anxiety. The remedy?  Time on my own – even on some task like housework or lawn cutting – as long as I could mentally detach myself from the work and think about other things – important things, detailed things or just plain silly things.

Heavenly days

These days I don’t daydream like I used to. That’s considered normal, too, for older adults. But I spend a fair amount of my waking thoughts on reflecting, reminiscing or ruminating. Maybe that’s why I love summer. It lends itself to contemplation. Who can resist taking in a sunset or going for a walk on a warm evening? Nothing fills up my senses like the sight of dew glistening on the lawn, the sound of birds greeting a new day or the scent of freshly cut hay. When the heat of the summer sun precludes ambition, productivity yields to thoughtfulness and relaxation. Laziness itself becomes a legitimate vocation.

Now I’m daydreaming about these halcyon days ahead of me. What are my plans for July and August?  I will watch the sun rise and set as often as possible, ride my bicycle and go swimming, play games on the lawn with my grandchildren, eat ice cream, watch fireworks and wander through old car shows, gaze up at the starry sky and marvel at the full moon, cover as many miles as I can on my motorbike. It’s a fantasy to-do-list that I hope becomes reality.

Amid these echoes of Eden I will consider the giver of all good and perfect gifts and thank him for memory and imagination, seasons of work and rest. Surely daydreaming is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. What else could this beauty that surrounds us be, other than the product of divine musings? With every detail meticulously planned and flawlessly completed, he himself reflected at the end of each day, saying “It is good.” Then came the seventh day – a Sabbath to the Lord our God.

It’s when I’m “disconnected” from the present reality that I’m most aware of the presence of eternal truth. It may be an altered state of consciousness, but I dare say it’s an important one.

My goals are to savour this summer, indulge in my daydreams and praise the Lord who designed them both. Sounds like time well spent to me. 

Author

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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