In praise of daydreaming

In this moneymaking, high-speed, success-oriented and appearance-is-all ruled world habitually “daydreamer” is a slightly offensive adjective of mockery with which inflexible restless sad workaholics, stiff etiquette and formalism worshippers and taut sentence-spitters pitifully address to the high cultural circles’ outcasts and world-that-counts’ pariahs in other words and to their bold self confident eyes  a flock  of absentminded and hopelessly quiet losers.

Nonetheless among those who ridiculously cannot realise and accept the limits and conditions of their own personalities, finances and lives and regardless strive to unreasonably divert the course of the events and nonsensically force them into an impossible lusty paradigm – which could be called utopians; or those who wish to follow unworthy highly publicised role models or worse to involve others into their own miserable ineptitude – which we could call visionaries; there are those who wisely lead their lives leaving room to sound and temperate daydreaming: a most commendable practise and meditative exercise – and naturally these are the fortunate ones I am hereby referring to.

Dreaming is unquestionably a fundamental aspect of living: imagination and fantasy create true emotions and indelible feelings. Hopes and expectations, as well as regrets and remorse, widely spread throughout daydreams accompanying the steps of our life. Anyhow woolgathering is neither a unmistakably distinct project of life, nor a well pondered definitive course of action, and it is not even the childish and useless proclaim for an alternative and of course better reality; it is a mere, and consciously distinct, image of reality that exceeds every day’s life and reassesses it under a new – happier and smoother – light.

In truth sometimes this reverie is more dangerously like a vague sense of emptiness and it reveals the confidence, or perhaps the warm hope, one has for being worthy of something better, yet, not knowing what this something actually is – as wonderfully depicted in a few lines by Flaubert:

“ Vaguement je convoitais quelque chose de splendide que je n’aurais su formuler par aucun mot, ni préciser dans ma pensée sous aucune forme, mais dont j’avais néanmoins le désir positif, incessant. ”

More often though this daydreaming fights against the hardships and responsibilities that age and reality usually – and inexorably… – bring along:

“Et puis, sont-ce là des états? Il faut s’établir, avoir une position dans le monde, on s’ennuie à rester oisif, il faut se rendre utile, l’homme est né pour travailler: maximes difficiles à comprendre et qu’on avait soin de souvent lui répéter.”

and this by opposing a marvellously clear and mellow perspective, often unachievable, that – I daresay fortunately – melts within one’s imagination. Flaubert, rather a gloomy personality, reaches wonderful nuances of merriment when daydreaming..:

“Que ne suis-je gondolier à Venise ou conducteur d’une de ces carrioles, qui, dans la belle saison, vous mènent de Nice à Rome! Il y a pourtant des gens qui vivent à Rome, des gens qui y demeurent toujours. Heureux le mendiant de Naples, qui dort au grand soleil, couché sur le rivage, et qui, en fumant son cigare, voit aussi la fumée du Vésuve monter dans le ciel! Je lui envie son lit de galets et les songes qu’il y peut faire; la mer, toujours belle, lui apporte le parfum de ses flots et le murmure lointain qui vient de Caprée. Quelquefois je me figure arriver en Sicile, dans un petit village de pêcheurs, où toutes les barques ont des voiles latines. C’est le matin; là, entre des corbeilles et des filets étendus, une fille du peuple est assise, elle a ses pieds nus, à son corset est un cordon d’or, comme les femmes des colonies grecques ; ses cheveux noirs, séparés en deux tresses, lui tombent jusqu’aux talons, elle se lève, secoue son tablier; elle marche, et sa taille est robuste et souple à la fois, comme celle de la nymphe antique. Si j’étais aimé d’une telle femme! ”

Nonetheless, I wish to remark that daydreaming does not mean censure or forgetfulness of actuality, or worse escape from real life; it is rather a flame in the darkness, a rosy perspective in proximity of a paramount choice or a capital turn of life. Even art – especially poetry – is always inspired and supported by dreams: the artists represents life just the way he/she sees it; without borders, rules and limitations. Even though sometimes this representations of the world might be rather sorrowful and murky the satisfaction of creation gives him/her peace and joy: music enthuses the listener with memories, and evoking affections and relations. Fortunately this is not a mere privilege of great minds, everyone can seek for the spark that can inspire and enrich his/her aspirations and expectations from life. In fact the great emotions that art can instigate are tightly linked to its ability in setting free the reality from the schemes and formats, by expressing it through new and diverse representations.

Human beings should never level themselves to the immediate representation of reality, but they have the right – if not the duty – to transfigure it to the extent that, via this new image of actuality, they can comply, or at least cope, with the dream of the life they mostly cherish for. It is obviously a clear fact that all human activities must consider the existing conditions and requisites and the overall framework they develop within; actually too often mirages get shattered, perspectives fade away, prospect projects weaken down: but even those professionally firmly taken decisions and highly detailed programmed/budgeted doings are based on an implicit fallacious assumption: the absolute existence of solely controllable variables… Yet even pessimism is, to a certain extent, a degenerated representation of reality, which additionally discourages from hard fighting and forecloses any enthusiasm.

Even such a severe author like Dante Alighieri, who most certainly knew enough the world’s crudeness and  its impact on actual life as he had his share of defeats, disappointments and troubles, could not refrain from daydreaming:

“Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io
Fossimo presi per incantamento,
E messi in un vasel ch’ad ogni vento
Per mare andasse al voler vostro e mio,

Sì che fortuna od altro tempo rio
Non ci potesse dare impedimento,
Anzi, vivendo sempre in un talento,
Di stare insieme crescesse ‘l disio.

E monna Vanna e monna Lagia poi
Con quella ch’è sul numer de le trenta
Con noi ponesse il buono incantatore:

E quivi ragionar sempre d’amore,
E ciascuna di lor fosse contenta,
Sì come i’ credo che saremmo noi.”

[Guido, I wish that Lapo, you and I,
could be by spells conveyed, as it were now,
upon a vessel, with all the winds that blow
across all seas at our good whim to sail.

So that no misfortune nor temper of the sky
could ruin our route with hatred or cruel slip;
but we, respecting our old friendship,
to be companions still should long thereby.

And Lady Joan, and Lady Lagia, then
with she who’s the thirtieth on my rank,
with us should our good wizard set:

sailing and talking always and only of love:
and each of our three ladies would be merry
as we should be, I think, if this were thus.]

Thus surprisingly such an austere writer, who dared to describe in his Divina Commedia an audaciously insightful journey throughout the “Other World” portraying crude punishments, poignant atonements and mystic joy, used to covet a very simple – and rather common I daresay – dream: to sail far and away, boundlessly, on a little vessel with his two best friends and fellow poets Guido Cavalcanti and Lapo Gianni and their  three girlfriends, cherishing the pleasure of infinite hours spent talking about art and love within the smooth waves of the tranquil ocean.

I definitely concur that modern life requires a cold blooded capacity of promptly and correctly analysing people and situations. Nonetheless daydreams accompany life, do not replace it; they do not overflow on actuality, but can smooth it out – thus reducing its severity, intransigence and harshness; and they allow to overcome dire moments by unveiling promising new perceptions of present and future. Therefore consequent joy, sadness, hopes and fears should move along our daily steps following – but absolutely not stopping – the rhythm of our life, which would be otherwise too rational, and also way more droning.

Ultimately daydreaming is both the spring and symptom of a positive attitude towards life, because in each and every moment gives room and way to hints of happiness, flashes of possible satisfactions and anticipations of prospect victories: altogether some softer and milder expectations that may try to counterbalance those foggy, grey and gloomy hours and days that nobody ever lacks of…

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37 comments on “In praise of daydreaming

  1. Milton says:

    Hello! I agree with every word you have written. I wish I had read more books to make a smarter comment. Good luck! Milton

  2. lustigkulle says:

    Thank you so much for this tribute to imagination! As usual, I agree – daydreaming is not only a pleasant pastime, it is necessary and creative. To gain a wider perspective, a help not be overpowered by the trivialities of daily life. Emily Dickinson, a woman who most certainly needed her dreams, describes it so well:

    “The soul has moments of Escape –
    When bursting all the doors –
    She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
    And swings upon the Hours,

    As do the Bee – delirious borne –
    Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
    Touch Liberty – then known no more,
    But Noon, and Paradise – ”

    Daydreaming can be like that, a great source of joy, if time and present occupation allows … Then sometimes it’s just a little thought that sneaks up in your brain when you are occupied with some boring but necessary task at work. And you lend back a couple of minutes:

    “Low at my problem bending,
    Another problem comes –
    Larger than mine – Serener –
    Involving statelier sums.

    I check my busy pencil,
    My figures file away.
    Wherefore, my baffled fingers
    Thy perplexity?”

    Another daydreamer and one of the great Italian masters, Petrarch, made the most creative use of his dreams in “Il Canzoniere”. Though he lead a busy life, very productive and prosperous, it seems as if he had to return over and over again to this dream of impossible love and unreachable beauty.

    Thanks again for a beautiful post!

  3. Nadia says:

    Dear Atheneion,
    I really understand and agree with you. Without dreams I would feel absolutely lost. I pity those who cannot dream and think that life is just getting a good job, work hard till late night and show off their new clothes and jewellery on weekends.
    Nadia

  4. Kristen says:

    I’m a daydreamer, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! Many, too many, do not understand me, but I do not care.
    I adore your post, you’re great!
    Kristen

  5. Sowmya says:

    My darling,
    I enjoyed reading and re-reading this inspirational article; believe me I think I truly know what you mean
    Kisses
    Sowmya

  6. Louise says:

    Fantastic article, perceptive and inspirational, in fact absolutely beautiful. I hate workaholics, and all those idiots in suite and tie who take life and themselves too seriously… what kind of life do they really live?
    Keep up with these posts, I won’t stop reading you!
    Louise

  7. Max says:

    Earning money and spending them in bull***, pretending or showing off higher knowledge and social status is not what really life is about, thank you for this post.
    Max, Fort Worth, TX

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Mon Chérie,
    Je adore ton billet. Flaubert regarde l’art comme la seule issue. Le rêve est une second vie, mais il faut contrôler a n’aspirer qu’a ce qui est raisonnable.
    Bisou
    Jacqueline

  9. Ignacio says:

    ¡Hombre que entrada!
    Suerte hermano
    Ignacio

  10. Clotilde says:

    Chérie,
    Très bon billet.
    La conscience de bourgeois est communément imposé par l’égotisme et par l’intérêt. Cette classe anéantit les aspirations et les et forts de l’homme.
    Selon Flaubert, « quiconque pense bassement» est bourgeois.
    Bisous
    Clotilde

  11. Grete says:

    Hello my darling,
    Daydreaming is part of exercising one’s freedom: I believe and I share your thoughts (you know that, don’t you?)
    Great post, Kyssa – Grete

  12. Miranda says:

    I read your blog regularly, never wrote a comment though. I couldn’t help to write you this time. I find your word well weighed and your thought clear. You seem quite convinced of what you say, and this honours you.
    I like your style and especially this post.
    Miranda

  13. Martha says:

    Well said! Let us stop chasing idiotic and useless things. Let us stop this worthless rush and get some time to think, breath and love.
    Lovely words, fantastic blog,
    Martha

  14. Eleanor Mc Kormick says:

    Interesting words and philosophy. You’re very wise for a young man.
    Eleanor Mc Kormick (1935),
    Rhode Island

  15. Noemi says:

    Beautiful, really beautiful. Let us dream more and live better. Life is so short.
    Noemi

  16. Nicholas says:

    Hi Atheneion!!
    this post is truly inspirational, a great outlook on what really counts in life.
    Nicholas – Salt Lake City

  17. Solange says:

    Dear Atheneion,
    let them waste their time chasing success and money, showing off their fancy name brand clothes and claiming pretending they KNOW IT ALL.
    They are missing the best of life, poor things!
    Solange

  18. Robert J. says:

    Great post! What life would it be without dreams? Robert J.

  19. Hellen Haan says:

    Dear, I know you too well not to understand fully and deeply what you mean.
    Fantastic post, I’m 100% with you on all the line
    Zoenen— Hellen

  20. Vidya says:

    Dear Atheneion,
    Such a greatly written post: full of meanings… I just love it!
    XXX
    Vidya

  21. Cindy says:

    I love this post. You write things straightforwardly but with high style. I believe in every word you wrote. There are too many idiots around us who think they have the world at their feet because of money, social prestige or so called “culture”…… please….c’mon! Bravo!
    Cindy

  22. Jimena says:

    Querido mío vivir sin sueños es como vivir sin aire.
    Miro el cielo, el mar y me siento dichosa…
    Besillos
    Jimena

  23. Andrew says:

    I love dreaming and I love life as well. I understand where you’re coming from and I agree with it all.
    Peace man!
    Andrew

  24. Emily says:

    My dearest who better than you can write about dreams come true?
    Lots of Kisses,
    Yours
    Emily

  25. Sandrine says:

    Mon Chérie,
    La médiocrité du monde actuelle, les règles de la vie sociale qui démarquent la liberté individuelle et culturelle alors comme aujourd’hui, toutes ces contradictions sociales et privées entraînent Flaubert il répondre il l’appel de l’art qu’il représente l’infini de l’idée et le rêve de la beauté.
    Bisous, bisous
    Sandrine

  26. Ariel says:

    Hi Atheneion,
    what a great article, blunt and stylish. You’re right people find it hard to loosen up and enjoy life.
    Ariel
    Minneapolis, MN, USA

  27. Jutta says:

    Hello!
    I really like your perspecive and ideas. I share all of them. Nice post and nice blog, congratulations,
    Jutta

  28. Olga says:

    Hello dear Atheneion,
    You are surely right. What is really worth in this world? Big money, social success? Well I do not think so!
    There more, much more to life than that.
    Olga

  29. Inge says:

    Hi Atheneion,
    very beautiful article. Great words and inspiration.
    Inge

  30. Ludmille says:

    What an interesting article! I love Dante and I did not know about his dreams and hopes of sailing away. Inspiring discover!
    Thanks a lot for your suggestions,
    Ludmille

  31. Maurice says:

    Très bon article: d’une grande simplicité et donne une émotion.
    Maurice

  32. Serena says:

    Hi Stoa,
    this is really a fantastic post. I agree with your words and your thoughts.
    Serena

  33. Marika says:

    I think that in these days too much importance is given to form and nobody cares about the substance anymore. That’s the real problem.
    Good post, very good post.
    Marika

  34. charles says:

    I’m fed up with all these false goals and unreachable and unreal role models…you are right man!
    Charles

  35. Holly says:

    Hi, I guess that Dante’s dreams of isolation from the rest of the world (although in company of his best friends) speaks for on his introspective character, maybe as gloomy as Flaubert?
    Lovely article
    Holly

  36. stoa says:

    Dear All,

    a fantastic unexpected “drizzle” of pertinent comments and copious nice emails has bloomed in response to this post, making it actually difficult for me to arrange and post distinct, apposite and circumstantiate responses to such a numerous series of observations.
    Nevertheless it is my wish to thank each and everyone of you – relentless affectionate readers as well as occasional always-welcome blog-visitors – for your compliments and commentaries.

    Thus, as you can see those who are roasted by the society that worships public triumphs, appearances and formalisms are not alone in dreaming of uncommon attainments and coveting unconventional aspirations; which is, by the way, partly also the implicit wisdom within Dante’s dream lines:
    - a friendship and camaraderie whose exclusive and pleasure are primarily based on a common vision and a real passion for a deserving undertaking;
    - a timeless (twice the Poet writes the word “sempre”=always) and cosy space (a little sailing vessel…) where nothing but their wishes and their beloved ones are admitted; and none of the turbulences from the outer world are allowed;
    - a private language and intimate jargon (e.g. “she who’s the thirtieth on my rank…”) which enhances the intimacy and the feel of “belonging” to a circle of trust;
    - the pivotal role of art and love which proudly enhances the “outcast effect” from the rest world, so typical of enamoured people.
    So, what is wrong with all that? Nothing, I deem…!

    Therefore why deriding with scorn people who, not losing the tracks of reality, seriously nourish the setting of unusual goals? Why shaking heads with compassion when watching persons who consciously do not follow the main stream by instead serenely leading an uncharacteristic life? Why demoting someone with disappointment because he/she, by courageous and cognisant choice, pursues his/her true happiness in his/her own personally nonconforming way?

    “All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come true”. [T.E. Lawrence]

    Thank you all, indeed.

    Atheneion

  37. Mark says:

    Good intuition. I recommend “Leisure, The Basis of Culture” by Josef Pieper to flesh out this idea, for all of you who haven’t read it.

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