Every day I daydream. Sometimes I intentionally set aside an hour or two to do it, laying on my back somewhere and staring up at the ceiling or the clouds. Usually though, it just happens; I’ll be sitting, watching Dr. Who at home, or listening to SVP & Russillo on my lunch break. Suddenly in the middle of a thought, my mind will drift away and I’ll be spreading wings that I don’t have, flying over distant mountain peaks.
John Muir couldn’t have been more correct when he said that, “the power of imagination makes us infinite”. When we truly explore our imaginations, there are no walls that can hold us in and no edges to the universe. Our only limitations are self-imposed; we stop ourselves short too often. Frequently we allow ourselves only to imagine things that seem to fit within our world and the understanding that we have for it.
This is perfectly normal, after all, the imagination is just like a muscle, it needs to be exercised and stretched. The less you use it, the less you’ll be able to. We start off imagining simple things, like how our lives would be different if we were a little thinner, wealthier, or more confident. Some people stop there, they allow that to be the extent of their daydreams, because they believe that fantasies and dreams are pointless; we live in the real world and dreaming about a false one won’t help anyone.
However, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that those same people are the ones that demand you use scratch paper to show your work when tackling a particularly difficult math problem in school.
You daydream about what it would be like to be just a bit more clever, more charming, or what would happen if you could do that one thing that you’ve never quite had the courage to do or say. Then the dreams turn toward how you could become… that, how you could achieve… that. Of course they’re just silly thoughts, not something to take seriously. But what if? What if you did something you haven’t done before, what if you actually tried to achieve your dreams? What if you found a solution inside your head that just may be crazy enough to work? Why not try it?
So what, if anything, do wild imaginations full of flight, alien worlds, magic, and physics-defying-grandeur bring to the table? It’s fine to use your imagination to tackle the problems in your life; the best way to get the promotion, how to woo that special someone, or how to afford that vacation to somewhere that you’ve never been. But what possible use is it to imagine yourself saving a world from genetic-experiments-gone-wrong, or riding on the back of an ice-breathing dragon?
Look at it this way, if you can imagine yourself in the most fantastical situations, if you can create entire universes in your mind for the sake of daydreams, then picture what an imagination that strong could do with a simple, every-day musing. It’s once again no different than math; the most advanced calculus equations are virtually useless in day to day life, but if you can do them with ease, then multiplication is just as easy as remembering to breathe.
Our imaginations are boundless and limitless in the possibilities that they provide. They give you the ability to sprout wings and fly over the horizons that keep you hemmed in to your day to day life. They give you the chance to kiss your one true love on a remote beach at sunset, even if you haven’t met them yet. Your imagination can take you places that you’ve only ever heard of; even more impressively, it can take you to places that don’t exist.
Therefore I encourage you to reach for your dreams, if you want to make changes in your life, you have the means to do so. If you want to change the lives of others, you have the means to do so. If you want to change the world, you have the means to do so. And if you want to shape the universe, we, collectively, as the human race, have the means to do so.
Let your mind wander, let your imagination take you to places never thought of. Never be afraid to see where you can go. If it takes you somewhere that scares you, know that you have no reason to fear it. In your imagination you can feel free to step off a skyscraper and know that the laws of physics will bend to your will. You are able to walk along the bottom of the seas, where even the sun won’t reach. You have the ability to raise mountains or to paint new constellations in the sky.
I encourage each and every one of you to take some time each week to simply imagine. Whether you want to lie back and watch the clouds while your mind explores, or maybe find some simple task (NOT DRIVING!), that doesn’t require your full attention and instead let your imagination take you to new places, either way is fine. Just be sure to stretch it, test it, use it, enjoy it in all of its infinity.
“Fantasy is like an exercise bicycle for the mind. It may not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” – Sir Terry Pratchett