Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The voice of (un)reality

"The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation." C.S. Lewis

I am a daydreamer of the worst kind. I have had full conversations with people where I haven't heard a single thing that they've said- I've read their non-verbal cues well enough to figure out where to smile and nod and where to shake my head, and the next thing I know, someone is hugging me, telling me I'm the best listener ever, and I've made their day by just being there.

Dear friends, if I'm not actually responding to what you've said, I suggest you quiz me. 

I'm pretty sure the daydreaming epidemic started when I learned to read. Even as a child in school, my teachers would be talking and I would be staring out the window, listening to Tumnus play flute, or driving off to Digitapolis with Milo, or solving puzzles with Nancy, Bess, and George.  There were so many good stories to be part of... I wanted in, even then. 

Then came boys- boys are a very big source of daydreaming... let me tell you. I was always the simple kind of girl- I dreamt about holding hands and talking until 6 am and just being in love. Every guy who smiled at me had potential, but there were very few who made it all the way to my daydreams. They were the ones that stood out above the crowd: they made me feel warm, they made me laugh, and they were interesting to me. Spring became my worst enemy- the weather got nice and the daydreams fell right into place. It was painfully delightfully.

And now, I'm 23 years old, and I'm still daydreaming. And sometimes it's still about stories or boys (and sometimes its the future boy, the one I haven't met yet but I will one day want to marry). But mostly now it's about having a home of my own, of making enough money to support people who need it, and of making the world better. The desires of my heart still manage to move the way to the front of my thoughts- but they've become a lot more like dreams, and sometimes, they feel a lot less like reality.

Without over analyzing, I am intrigued at how my own desires have changed. Life is not meant to be spent with your head in the clouds (or as my british friend says, being "off with the fairies"). It's meant to be a chance to make those visions come true. The problem, of course, is that in daydreams, there are no pitfalls. There are no stories that don't come full circle, there are no heartbreaking relationships, and the world actually does get better. When we daydream, we don't have to consider that each reward comes at a largely consequential price. And while sometimes, the prize is great, sometimes, it's something somewhat less than satisfying: a few hours sleep, a long distance phone call, a hot beverage... Even I'm not surprised that so many of us want out of reality. 

Lately, though, I've been thinking. Daydreaming always makes us want more. We never get enough of the stories in our head- we didn't work for them. We aren't tired from the pursuit of them. We haven't earned them, and so they aren't worth nearly as much in the end. These hardships that break us down, they make the result that much greater. They fill us up, so our achievements are worth something. When something is handed to us, it doesn't really make us feel fulfilled, but when we earn it... we can be satisfied for a long time. 

I'm not going to give up daydreaming. The good ideas have to start somewhere, even if it is dancing and holding hands in the fields with sprites. And once those good ideas are there, I'm going to have a lot of work in front of me. Despite the obstacles, it will be worth getting to the cup of tea at the end.

Minty water will have never tasted so good.

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