I embody multiple daydreamer cliches – the student gazing out the window, the girl staring at the clouds, the classmate doodling in the margins, and the hiker gazing over the tree tops. The daydreaming comes with a bit of absent-mindedness here and there, but I’m owning it with pride. Thing is, daydreamers have also have a propensity for creativity, empathy and — this one is all my own — taking pictures.
The New Yorker expounds on the Virtues of Daydreaming for creatives, and the current issue of Psychology Today examines the direct relationship between daydreaming and empathy. And the connection between photography and daydreaming? Well, that’s all my own – feel free to credit yours truly.
During graduate school, I used to leave the library and study alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. I would read and write until I lost focus and started daydreaming about this that and the other. The daydream almost always ended with a tourist tapping my back and asking me to take their picture.
Before long, I found myself intentionally breaking to ask people if they wanted their photograph taken. Have you ever asked a couple if they wanted a picture? Or a family? It’s a surefire way to make someone smile, and the question is almost always answered with an eager “yes yes – thank you!”
I didn’t take many photographs of myself back then– I’m not sure why, but I had this feeling that my moment was coming soon — it wasn’t here yet, but it would arrive before long. Does that make sense?
We hiked a number of waterfalls this weekend, and each time we reached the peak I looked around for someone to take our picture. I asked hikers and bystanders and doodlers if they would break for a moment and snap a photograph. And you know what? It made me smile each time I did- it felt like whatever I’d been waiting for had finally arrived.
My favorite time of day is the first couple of hours before the sun comes up. The quiet of morning makes me feel quite alone in the world, and I enjoy strolling the vacant streets with a cup of coffee. The walk wakes my body, the coffee jolts my mind, and, ever so slowly, people begin to trickle out of their homes and into the streets.
If you look closely, everyone seems to understand their place in the world around 8am – business associates hop determinedly onto buses, students crack open their books, and shopkeepers swiftly sweep the floors. As the day progresses, people inevitably feel tired or angry or sad, but in the morning, it just seems like endless hope.
That’s all for now, but tell me – what’s your favorite time of day?
Science tells us that every single cell in the human body replaces itself within 10 years. Changes in the body are obvious to the eye, and we don’t question that our appearance will change over a period of ten years. A more interesting question, perhaps, is how long it takes for change to occur in our hearts and minds.
I was having dinner with a group of friends when a disparaging comment was made about a mutual acquaintance from high school. My friend Sarah asked why the comment was made, and the accuser recalled an episode from 9th grade. “Well,” Sarah replied, “9th grade was over ten years ago – don’t you think they’ve changed? We’ve all made mistakes.”
Pure genius, right?
It takes strength to be kind, and it takes wisdom to realize we’re all flawed. Each of us is constantly changing, growing, and learning, and we’re bound to make mistakes as we journey through life. We do the best we can until we know better, and when we know better, hopefully, we do better (to rephrase Maya Angelou).