I tend to daydream often when things are feeling quite right. Sometimes my dreams are fond memories, sometimes they are imaginative plotlines. Either way, these wide-awake dreams help me escape from a moment that I would rather not experience. Is it healthy? I’m not sure. Mindfulness and presence are important, sure, but so it sanity, and if briefly escaping helps to maintain sanity, so be it.
For the most part, my daydreams are on my side and offer supportive and bright visions of better times. However, I also experience manipulative and self-loathing daydreams as well. Consequently, these self-loathing visions elude me from wonderful real-time moments the same way that bright daydreams elude from crappy ones. A blessing and a curse.
Learning to control these thoughts, both types, are essential for survival. In the words of Professor Dumbledore, “It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live.” Life is now. In this moment, and in this way. And it is ending second by second. Memories, while grand, are poison if they prevent us from moving forward to make more of them. Predictions are likewise poison because they give the illusion of a control that we will never have. Remember fondly and prepare wisely but do neither in excess.
This (not so new) revelation hit me after I came home from California. After my brief trip, I realized I was never truly there. In the mornings, I imagined my day; what I would wear, how I would act, what I would see. At night, I imagined all the mistakes I had made; what people thought about my outfit, how my teeth look, how frizzy my hair was. When I made it to the beach, I thought about what there was to see on the boardwalk. As I put my hands over Marilyn Monroe’s prints at TCL (a bucket list item for me), I thought about what was up the stairs.
Much of my life has been spent in a perpetual cycle of remembering and predicting, both of which have done me no good. When I put myself in the moment, I accomplish things. I never would have bought my plane tickets if I had stopped to worry about how I would get there or remembered that I am timid.
So, among all the excitement and great things that California helped me to experience, the greatest is that of treasuring the now. Even if I will daydream about it while I’m bored in class or at work.