The power of daydreams
by Jessa Slade on June 29th, 2009

When I was a teen, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Vail, Colorado, babysitting my cousins on a ski vacation.  It was awesome.  I’d never been downhill skiing before, and I got to take classes and accompany my aunt and uncle and the kids (who were waaaay better than me) on some of the easier runs.

If you’ve ever been skiing in Colorado, I don’t need to describe it, but for the rest of you, I will just say: Heaven. Celestial blue skies. The softest, whitest, downy snow. An intense and all-encompassing feeling of floating and joy. (When I wasn’t yard sale-ing — or we could say sailing — across half the slope.)

vail{This photo of a $2800/night mountain-side chalet is NOT where we stayed; but the beauty is the same, free, and everywhere.}

One night near the end of our stay, my aunt and uncle had gone for a nice dinner and the kids were asleep. I stepped out onto the balcony.  Our room faced a walkway through the pines, with the pale bulk of the mountain beyond.  It was late, but the reflection of hotel lights off the snow made the night glow.  Drifting snowflakes (like the rain in the fairy world of Summerland, I swear it only snowed at night in Vail) glimmered like falling stars in the dark.

I thought, This is where I want to be.

Fast forward, oh, about seven years. 

That last serene image of Vail had stayed with me over time and distances. I would conjure it up in my head when I was stressed about finals in college, when I was studying abroad, and at my first less than inspiring full-time job.

One day, looking through want-ads, I saw an opening at a newspaper in Vail, Colorado.  And I made my daydream a reality.

Later, I read books about manifesting your reality. I read how your brain — trapped in a cage of bone and goo — has no way to experience the “real” world except through your senses. If you can imagine something clearly enough — see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it — as far as your brain is concerned, that’s reality.  Eventually, your imagination can become reality.

Run amok, this process leads to mental illness, true.  But since we’re using our powers for good…

Daydream + Action plan + Perserverance = Your shiny new reality

Daydreams without the other two elements are perfectly lovely, of course.  A few minute’s mental vacation on a snowy mountain night is entirely enough.  Not everybody wants to turn that into living in a ski bum town for two years, paying $700 a month to sleep in a heated shed (no bathroom) between two single-wide trailers for the honor of coming up with another sudden illness every time the fresh powder falls.  Sometimes even shiny new realities aren’t quite the same as the daydream.

But I think the power of a daydream to relax and revive and delight us is the knowledge that it could become so much more, given the right circumstances and impetus.

After all, writing started as a daydream for me.

caribbean-vacationMy new daydreaming escape is also based on an old family vacation.  When I was young, my parents took my sister and me to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands.  (And, yes, what my sheltered suburban upbringing sadly lacked in future source material for lurid angsty tell-alls, it more than made up for in loving, generous family members who believed new experiences were more important than stuff.)  The Caribbean was, to my imagination, as epic as Vail in its own way.  I’d never been snorkeling before, but oddly, the ocean was the same color as the Colorado sky.

One evening, we walked through town on one of the islands. The sky had turned a peachy red fading to blue, the colors echoed in the hanging baskets of flowers.  The air was as perfectly warm as the water, at once decadent and pure. 

I could as easily have been a beach bum as a ski bum.  Just sayin.’

One of these days, I’ll make it back to that island, and then I’ll need a new, new daydream. But for now, I’m savoring every minute in paradise.

When you daydream, is it about old places, or places you’ve never been?

10 comments to “The power of daydreams”

  1. 1

    For as long as I can remember I indulge myself to explore the fancies of my mind. It starts as much as when I wake up and prepare myself for work. My fantasies begin about taking a vacation. Travelling and going to different locations are one of my favourite subjects to dream about. The number one thing that I like to imagine stuff about however is the amount of romance, or adjusting the lack of it, in my life. Although I often have a fruitful imagination I also find that I (day-) dream a lot by reading romance novels. Their stories are often better or more creative than what I could have come up with. They contain mystery and excitement, sometimes vampires or ghosts. Things that I never would have thought to contain such romance. They allow me to escape, relax and dream even more wonderful dreams. After finishing a book I sometimes feel a little sad that the story has come to an end, and that’s where my own daydreaming kicks in again. Letting me enjoy the story a bit longer by dreaming my own version about what happens next, after the official ‘THE END’ that is, to the couple that I’ve come to care about. :smile:

  2. 2

    My current daydream is about building a house to my specifications, so I have to say that it’s about a place I’ve never been :-).

  3. 3

    I always dream about places I’ve never been, especially after watching The Travel Channel. They always show such lush, exotic beaches or romantic mountain getaways that I can’t help but start wishing I could win the lottery and go wherever I want.

  4. 4

    You’ve been to some lovely places, Jessa. No wonder you dream such colorful dreams.

    Zita, do you buy building plan books? Or do you already have a house plan in mind? I buy books every once in a while and just drool.

    Jody, my theory is when I buy a lottery ticket that’s exactly what I’m paying for–a chance to dream. I don’t actually believe I’ll win. :wink:

  5. 5

    I have to agree with Kirsten as far as the books go. When I was younger I thin it was my day dreaming that saved my sanity (I was raising 7 kids alone). :) Today I like to dream about all of my now Adult children being in the best places possible and having as much happiness as they can stand.
    Carol L.

  6. 6

    Carol, that’s a beautiful dream, the best anyone can wish for their children. It’s what I hope for my own daughters. As for myself, I’m a fantasy traveler too, especially now with the economy foiling all our would-be vacation plans.

  7. 7

    You waited for your Colorado adventure but it’s wonderful you got to experience it. Just goes to show that sometimes dreams are wise enough to wait until the time is right.

  8. 8

    I have insomnia, so I’d make up stories in my head to help me fall asleep, but sometimes they just kept me awake.

  9. 9

    Daydream + Action plan + Perserverance = Your shiny new reality

    I agree! What a great equation.

    And SIGH. The picture of the chateau is gorgeous. I love Colorado and skiing.

  10. 10

    With two young kids at home… sometimes I just dream of NOT cooking dinner or doing laundry… Dinner out and a movie anyone? Or, better yet, a night home alone and Seduced by Shadows to read!!!

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