Daydreaming on a Sunny Afternoon

I daydream. I always have.

When I’m traveling (oh, to be traveling again!), I like to wander around the place I’m visiting and fantasize about what it would be like to live there. I do the same thing staring out car or train windows.

I like to lie in bed when I first wake up and think about things. Sometimes I work on stories or essays, but sometimes I just think about something I’d like to do.

The main thing that actually gets me out of bed in the morning is the idea that once I’ve washed my face (and such) and fed the cats and made the coffee, I can sit in a comfy chair, sip my coffee, and think.

Truth be told, I think my whole life is a constant search for time to just sit and think.

So when I read this report about a scientific study that suggests most people don’t like to be alone with their thoughts, I was, to put it mildly, shocked. Especially when they reported that 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women would rather give themselves electric shocks than be alone with their thoughts.

Apparently the thing that I want most in life is anathema to a lot of people.

Now don’t get me wrong. I can scroll through my phone looking for distraction with the best of them. And there are times when I’m desperate for something to read to occupy my mind.

These times usually happen when there is some work I am supposed to be doing that I don’t want to do. Like taxes or cleaning house.

But I also read to glean information so that I have more to think about. It is no accident that a lot of the people I follow on twitter are those who write (and link to) good essays or do threads that provide lots of complex information.

I suspect that’s not how you’re supposed to do twitter, but it has a lot of pluses. For one thing, those pieces make me think about their subjects in a complex way, so even if they are about, say, our failures in the pandemic, they aren’t just screams of rage.

According to the study, people don’t know how to daydream. That’s incomprehensible to me. How can people not know how to daydream?

And how can they decide what they’re going to do in their lives if they’re not daydreaming or thinking about what matters to them?

The report on the study points out that people get in trouble for daydreaming in school. Maybe it gets pushed out of people because of the way we set up education. Me, I spent a lot of time daydreaming when I was in school. I was just good at figuring out when I needed to drop back in on what was happening in the classroom.

But it is true that we were all brought up to think of daydreaming as being lazy, as a bad habit. Now, all of a sudden, some scientists have figured out that it’s good for our mental health and apparently people have to learn how to do it.

Seems like we spent a lot of time as adults re-learning how to do things that came naturally to us as kids. Might be time to change the way we do education.

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