Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hillside heretic

From the journal of a daydreaming window addict

Correct me if I'm wrong, but am I in a minority of people that holds value in daydreaming? What I'm saying is, if you see the value as much as I do, please, for the sake of us all, speak up.

Ever since I was a kid I've had a problem with windows. Be they open or closed, during morning, mid-day, or night, showcasing a scenic hillside or a brick wall, I would stare out the window. I remember during high school geometry a lot of time was spent staring out the classroom window, which explains those test scores. Through classroom windows, car door windows, workplace windows - I could spend half my day staring outside. I still catch myself doing this from time to time as an adult, and though I still don't know what triggers this habit, I know that I hope I never lose it.

Maybe it’s the fact that life seems more immediate and more immense on the other side of the glass. Out there I know there is a breeze, and I know that the air and the sunlight will cleanse the frustration out of my mind. Out there I can't help but think of the places I could go, the things I would see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The possibilities seem endless, and I used to (and still do) let my imagination go wild. Why? Because it gives me hope.

I think there's a lot to be said for the abstract scenes that roll through one's head while caught up in one of these moments. Consider, for a moment, some time recent or otherwise in which you caught yourself in a daydream (no window necessary). Do you recall how lucid and real it seemed as it occurred? Can you remember exactly what you were thinking about? Or is it that all you recall was the feeling? All you remember was the charm, the enchantment that had come over you - the feeling of joy, wonder, safety - the possibility of adventure just beyond the horizon, the other side of the wall, just over some unseen hilltop.

American society demands efficiency, that's no secret. In an efficient operation, the goal is to eliminate the frivolous and wasteful. Unfortunately for many, daydreaming is considered a significant waste of time. After all, how are the widgets going to get built if all the workers are off gazing at hillsides? This is sound logic, but let me remind you why we're building the widget in the first place: Someone had a dream.

Someone, somewhere, at some point in time dreamed of a better way to produce a saw blade, or a compass, or a printing press. They had an idea for a system or a business that did something new, something groundbreaking, or simply from a different angle. Their idea worked, it was successful, and it was invested in. Now the idea that was shaped in someone's mind is molded into reality by the resources of this world. We take an idea, and we make it reality.

Many people shy away from their dreams because they fear failure and they fear the hurt. When an idea fails and falls flat, it can feel like the world is ending, it can feel like the bottom fell out and everything invested into the idea was wasted. I am here to tell you that's not the case. That's not the case no matter how many times you fall flat. The cost of entry is high, it takes a lot to climb the mountain, and there's only so much room at the top. That means that if you really, truly want something, you need to be prepared to go to hell and back to get it; you need to be prepared to fail.

What happens to us when we lose sight of the big picture?

We get up too close to our daily lives. We analyze and pick apart tedious details in order to reach some pre-defined goal, and by the time we reach it, we hardly enjoy it. Somewhere along the way we stopped dreaming of a better tomorrow, got comfortable with where we were, and expected less. Don't let this happen to you, you deserve more. You deserve not to settle.

We all have dreams, and we're all in the same machine. We all have aspirations, or goals, or commitments to making a better life for ourselves and those we love. Much the same, we all have the same systems and the same set of tools (in the grander scheme of things) to get us there. The choice of which rules we follow and which rules we break is what is commonly referred to as free will - choose wisely.

This one is for the dreamers. For every single person who still wants to climb high, take off, and do big things. Outside those windows are opportunities that are still boundless, limited only by the imagination you foster. I say three cheers for the dreamers because now is the perfect time for imagination, innovation, and creation. Right now is a time to be flexible, to be a thinker, to be boundless and agile in our approach to living a life worth living.

Do me one favor though, do me a kindness - when you get there, when you finally catch your dream, make time to find somewhere quiet, some space for yourself to sit, alone in a room with a window to stare out, and softly let your imagination roam out to the hillside. Then, go bigger.

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.”
- Woodrow Wilson
See you out there,
A woodsman in training

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