daydreaming…a lost art

daydream

daydream (Photo credit: island home)

It’s been awhile since I’ve even heard the term…daydreaming. As a child in the 1950’s I daydreamed…a lot.  It was an option as I flew out the front door, my mom’s favorite refrain ringing in my ears. “Go outside and play!”  Free of schedules, free of chores, free of homework. My brain and I were in control of my body, willing it to do…whatever…or…nothing at all.

I could daydream…imagining make-believe worlds so different from the one in which I lived. Or I could let my mind float…somewhere…out there. Hovering with the butterflies, soaring with the birds, crawling with the insects.

Technicolor and high-definition were creations of my own intellect. Heightening the vibrancy or tweaking the images were mine to control…without buttons and knobs. I had time…to daydream. Pity today’s children. They’ve no time to daydream.

Cover of

Cover of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

In Praise of the Summer Daydream
by Danny Heitman
   As another summer arrives at our doorstep, I’ve been thinking of what my 11-year-old son told me not long ago on a long drive back from a weekend of camping. “If it’s OK with you,” Will said from the back seat, “I’m just going to sit here and daydream for a while.”
   I was heartened that Will had decided to claim a few moments for mental wandering after two days devoted to the outdoor regimens of his Boy Scout troop. But as I gazed through the rearview at the woods receding from view, I had to wonder if Will’s plans would produce the desired result.
   Daydreaming, after all, is something that tends to defy planning. The best daydreams just happen, serendipitously, as we’re doing something else–the brain slipping its leash for a random walk away from work, or class, or the Sunday sermon gone on too long.
   But my son’s sense of daydreaming as a pastime requiring a certain amount of room in the day–a slow half-hour or so when thoughts can float like balloons into the waiting sky–seemed a wise recognition of the freedom needed to let a mind go. Summer, in our ideal vision of the season, seems a natural incubator for daydreaming, as office schedules slacken, and beach vacations beckon, and the close of school liberates children from campus.
   But in squaring off his daydreaming time the way that a grown-up might pencil in an appointment with the dentist or CPA, Will reminded me of the degree to which kids these days tend to think in schedules, even in summer.
   Summer camps nudge America’s children from one enrichment activity to another, and little-league sports perpetually point their little eyes toward the urgency of a ball in play. Do youngsters have any real chance for daydreaming during the vacation months–or in any other time of the year?
   A daydream is a stolen pleasure–a moment or two pleasantly robbed from some more obviously useful task as the brain leaps a fence, goes adventuring and, with any luck, returns to active duty before anyone knows it’s been AWOL.
   But as texts and tweets and ringing cellphones keep a constant claim on attention, such mental escapes can seem all but impossible for youngsters and grown-ups alike.
   If an awareness-raising campaign for daydreaming seems in order, then there’s no better role model for the cause than the title character of James Thurber‘s 1939 short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” A genius at mental digression, the unassuming Mitty evades the tedium of errands with his wife by casting himself as the star of several fantasies, alternately trying on the roles of rakish military commander, ingenious surgeon, crafty murder suspect, and tragic hero facing the firing squad.
   Thurber’s story took on a life of its own, proving wildly popular among careworn Americans fighting World War II. Readers seemed to know that even in the midst of a global conflict–or perhaps because of it–a little mental doodling like Mitty’s could do them a lot of good.
   But Thurber was amused, some years after his free-associating hero first appeared in print, to discover that a British medical journal had coined the term “Walter Mitty syndrome” to describe “pathological daydreaming.”
   Maybe it was inevitable that Mitty would be appropriated to equate daydreaming with illness. Today, as concern about attention deficit disorder informs the popular culture, a practiced daydreamer might find himself classified not as an artist of improvisation, but a case to be cured.
   Long before Walter Mitty’s wife tried in vain to return him permanently to reality, the world had its daydreamers–and diligent guardians bent on reforming them.
   When asked how he happened to create his famous daydreamer, Thurber suggested that he didn’t so much invent Mitty as simply extend a lengthy tradition.
   “There were Walter Mittys, under other names, in the writings of dozens of men ahead of my time, including Shakespeare,” he told a reader.
   So maybe, given its genius for subversion, daydreaming might survive–and even thrive–in a summer that’s probably going to be much busier than it needs to be.

(Mr. Heitman, a columnist for the Baton Rouge Advocate, is the author of “A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House” (LSU Press, 2008)).

I read Thurber’s Walter Mitty in high school. I don’t think it was such a big deal at the time because I indulged in daydreams. 

daydream

daydream (Photo credit: island home)

It’s been awhile since my mind floated skyward…in search of…nothing in particular. I’m not sure adults are able to daydream without reality undermining our efforts at every turn. Too many concerns, worries, stresses. No time to waste; too many tasks at hand. 

Do we outgrow daydreaming as we age? Or have we been brainwashed into accepting, that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop?” I heard that a few times from the nuns who were charged with educating me for 13 years, including kindergarten. 

Within the last couple of decades the good sisters have been replaced with enormous school workloads and extracurricular activities, not to mention texting and Facebooking. Every moment is earmarked and spoken for…before it’s even materialized. The devil’s had to find lazy-bones elsewhere…not that he’s had any trouble on that front.

Kids need time…to grow their own “brand.” Daydreaming provides fertile ground for imagining…and creating.

…isn’t that how great minds like da vinci…edison…madame curie…chihuly…and others like them…invent, discover, and create,?…

………hugmamma. 

balancing…life

An advertisement for a pneumatic vacuum cleaner

Image via Wikipedia

Readers of hurmamma’s mind, body, and soul have probably noticed that my keyboard’s been silent for awhile. I’d chores that needed doing which I’d put aside for far too long. So I pushed back from my laptop, and “switched hats.” I donned my housekeeper’s apron and wrapped my fingers around the vacuum cleaner handle instead.

Transitioning from one task, blogging, to another, which includes everything else, isn’t easy for me. As mentioned in task, reward…task, reward, https://hugmamma.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/task-reward-task-reward/blogging is addictive. I’d rather be writing than doing almost anything else. Once I’m in the groove, I find it difficult to extricate myself from the routine. I’m pretty certain most writers feel the same way.

However when papers accumulate on table tops and in drawers, and items for return remain on the dining room chair for weeks, and dusting has been put off for months, and toilets beckon to be scrubbed, I concluded the writer in me needed to go on hiatus. Getting my physical environment in order is essential to maintaining my mental equilibirum. That’s how I’ve always been. My daughter’s inherited that trait from me, which I think is fortunate. She agrees.

Balancing the various aspects of one’s life is good for optimum de-stressing. Having too many pile-ups, both physical and mental, can challenge anybody’s sanity.  Prioritizing tasks and accomplishing them without playing the blame game with oneself, is probably the healthiest way to proceed. Even if only a few are completed, that’s more than were done yesterday.

Cover of "I'd Rather Be Writing"

Cover of I'd Rather Be Writing

It may be that I wrote this post to myself as a kind of a rationale as to why I’d stopped writing. But perhaps I also sought to learn if I still had a passion for it. It seems I do. But with other “pots still simmering,” I may not return to blogging as voraciously as I once had. Only time will tell. However it isn’t just a matter of time, and effort, it’s also a question of reality vs. the Internet. I’ll write more of my concerns in that respect in a followup post. All I’ll say for now is that it has to do in part with…

abc’s 20/20 “the sixth sense”…and its revelations several nights ago that were hair raising…to say the least………hugmamma.

a fantasy becomes reality

Great news! My piece, “Long-Held Secret” written specifically for publication on the WordPress blog, The Time Capsule, is out.

The post will go live at 12 PM Eastern time today.
Here is the link for the post: http://wp.me/p15Plj-gc
Thanks for adding to the entertainment of my site. I appreciate it!
B.C. Young
 

 

 

Since writing the 600 word fictional piece requested by Mr. Young, I’ve added another 2,000 words. My husband, who earned his college degree in English, remarked “I can hardly wait to see where this goes!” upon reading what I’ve written thus far.  So the saga continues, and from time to time, I’ll post a sampling to whet your appetite for the finished book.  The end may be a long way off. You’ll definitely have time to save your pennies towards the purchase. Meanwhile, I’ll have to wrap my brain around the publishing end of making a book happen. Wish me luck! I’ll need it.

 hoping you’ll leave comments for me to read on b.c. young’s blog…and thanks in advance for checking it out…hugmamma. 

“opens me up,” walking

Just returned from a short walk around the neighborhood. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. The sun was warm, but not unbearable. Although I did peel off a layer, a lightweight jacket, opting to wear the thick vest over my thin sweatshirt instead. Wrapping the jacket around my hips, I headed toward the nearby park. As I got closer, I could hear voices and as I rounded the turn, there was an explosion of people having fun.

The tennis court was full, a family of 3 were in the children’s playground, the huge, grassy field was host to several different groups. Baseball was being played by a good, many people, soccer by a handful, La Crosse by a couple of boys. Dogs on leashes, walking their owners; a puppy frolicked, rolling around blissfully in the green blades. Pets are not exempt from having fun in the sun.

Always in evidence on the weekends are a small “army” of young adults dressed in feudal garb doing battle with poles. It’s interesting to observe them at play. At first glance the group may look like goth followers, until they re-enact fight scenes. They look serious at what they’re about. Maybe one day I’ll engage one of them in conversation and find out the group’s history. For now, I’ll just enjoy watching them as I walk by.

Everyone looked like they were having so much fun, oblivious to those around them, or perhaps enjoying that they were part of the bigger celebration of a beautiful day in the park. Deciding to join in, I sauntered over to a swing and started…swinging. Wow, what an adrenalin rush! I was a child again, no cares in the world. Gazing up at the cloudless, pale blue sky, I felt a million miles away. Leaning back into the push off, I rushed forward as though I were 6, not 61. I’m not sure what I looked like to others, but I felt gloriously youthful. There’s a child in all of us, waiting to emerge whenever we let them.

Minutes later, I alighted back on earth, back to reality. Striding away I felt a bounce to my step as I resumed walking, like several other adults, young and old, whom I passed. Nodding with a small smile and a glance in their direction, I felt myself opening up to the warmth of a blossoming, very early, spring day, and the joy of others doing the same. As I continued on my way, I thought  “How wonderful life is, when I open myself up to the  sunshine that pours in on a cloudless day.

Hey! And if I can’t be on a beach in Maui, a park full of sun worshippers will do just fine.

for good weather…hugs, and some…hugmamma.  🙂

reality vs. freedom and hope, dr. william petit

How does one wrap one’s brain around the horrific murder of a mom and two, untainted, beautiful, young daughters, one 17 and the other 11? Where do you begin to unravel the tightly wound “spool” that commingled the thread of 6 lives? How did they become entwined? Was it perchance, or was it fate? Where was God when this crime against humanity, against Him, occurred?

Apart from hearing of the Petit murders sensationally broadcast all over TV when they happened in 2007, I didn’t care to delve deeper into the crimes. Certain acts, like these, register too close to home to want to acknowledge them head on. It’s easier to turn away, so that your brain doesn’t absorb all the evil details, so that your imagination doesn’t prohibit you from living without fear.

 The Petit family may have lived a privileged life by virtue of Bill’s being a physician. Maybe that sealed their fate that day. But when one of the co-conspirators, Joshua Komisarjevsky, randomly selected Jennifer Petit and her daughter Michaela in a local supermarket as possible victims, he didn’t know that they were of above average means. Not until he and his partner, Steven Hayes, were well on their way to committing the heinous crime, did they establish how much money, $15,000, they could abscond. So the Petits were stand-ins for any number of American families. The configuration of victims and dollar amount might have differed, but the crime would have played out somewhere, according to the whims of the 2 men who decided to play God.

Dr. William Petit spoke with Oprah, allowing us insight into a victim’s agonizing recovery. Looking at him, only a “shell” remained. He has reconciled himself to living, deciding that suicide would remove any possibility that he could rejoin his loved ones in the after-life. Slumped on the formal sofa, eyes squinting from behind eye glasses, Bill’s voice barely resonated. Oprah seemed to infuse life into him with her gentle probing. Perhaps the interview was cathartic to the doctor’s healing process. It’s obvious he’s in need of a spiritual transfusion.

Having lost his family and his home, which the criminals burned to destroy the evidence, Petit has lost the essence of his identity. He was Jennifer’s husband, and father to Hayley and Michaela. Without them, it’s difficult to heed well-meaning advice from those who tell him to “live in the moment.” His past gone, and his dreams of the future destroyed, he feels disconnected from the present. Upon leaving the cemetery with his sister one day, he asked her “Who am I? Whose clothes are these?” No longer the same person, Bill is unconvinced that he will find happiness, or love once again. Because he suffers post traumatic stress, he gave up his medical practice, something he says Jennifer would want him to resume. He claims to have “good” days, and “bad” days. His sister is saddened on the days when her brother is unable to get out of bed, or when he shuts himself in a room, away from life.

“What is it called when you lose a child?” Petit asks Oprah. He explains that when a husband loses his wife, he’s called a widower; when a wife loses her husband, she’s a widow. The talk show hostess suggests that it’s unnatural for a child to die before its parent, so there is no word to describe his position after the loss. Petit agrees. When asked if he can forgive those who took the lives of his loved ones, Bill first lists crimes which could be forgiven, a car accident, a theft, verbal diatribes. But, he says, “it’s inappropriate to forgive the essence of evil.”

Talk of his daughters momentarily lights up Bill Petit’s eyes which twinkle, a smile creeping across his face. He had a special relationship with the eldest, Hayley, whom he nicknamed “KK Rosebud.” Her favorite saying had been “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Smart and athletic, Hayley was bound for Dartmouth where she would continue to participate in sports as she had in high school. Had she known first love? According to her father, Hayley was in love with someone a year younger in school, for whom she would interrupt her studies to shoot hoops. Petit wished his daughter had experienced true love, before her life was snuffed out.

Michaela, the youngest, liked gardening, but loved cooking more. She cooked the family’s last meal together. Petit remembered it as being a very good meal.

Jennifer, Petit’s wife and partner in managing their lives, was a nurse and surrogate mom to the students in the boarding school where she worked. Amazingly, she also suffered with multiple-sclerosis, though she never complained about it, according to those who knew Jennifer. Daughter Hayley had started a foundation to support MS research in the hopes of saving her mom from the disease. After their deaths, Precious Petits continued the cause. Bill Petit sees the foundation’s purpose as three-fold. First, to fund educational programs, such as those in the sciences, especially to benefit young women; second, to fund MS research; and third, to help victims of violent crime.

Helping others has eased Petit’s heartache, as has knowing that the world is filled with many good people, like those who have contributed to the foundation. He knows too that Hayley and Michaela would want him to be happy. God isn’t to blame, instead they’re at a standoff, says Bill, a Christian. “He has nothing to do with what happens on earth.” Petit’s probably right.

Seems to me we’ve been given all we need to live our lives, including making our own decisions, correctly or incorrectly. There are cultures which see God manipulating their lives; that’s not our culture. Americans believe in freedom, for everyone. We also believe in hope, that we will live our lives without violence. But we know that reality is ultimately, an uncertainty. We can’t control what lies beyond our reach. So we enjoy our freedom, and hope, in silence, that our lives will be harmonious. That was Bill Petit’s expectation of his family’s life in suburban Connecticut.

But what reality subtracts from our lives, hope and freedom restores. Life is change, in small ways, as well as sizeable ones. These “detours” are the sum total of who we are, at the end of our lives. Bill Petit has just taken a detour on his journey through life, and he’s decided to go the distance. Somehow we all dig deep for the courage to go forward. What’s the alternative? Quitting? I think we’re too curious a species, not to want to know what might be just around the corner, or behind door #2, or awaiting us with the dawn of a new day. Who knows? The grandest of all gifts might still be waiting on the horizon.

Reality is, what is. Freedom and hope are what can be.

for Bill Petit as he discovers “what can be,” huge hugs…hugmamma.