You have a dream!

Daydreams, fantasies and nocturnal explorations are practical tools that can help us lead more fulfilling lives. Tom Hodgkinson, Britain’s best-known professional daydreamer, explains the real trick: to harmonize our dreamworld and our dayworld.


Tom Hodgkinson | May 2005 issue

How we suffer for our dreams! How dismissive are the teachers, bureaucrats and cynics who tell us our visions are a waste of time. They warn us that we have our heads in the clouds, they lecture us to stop daydreaming. When we announce our grand schemes to our friends, they reply with a put-down such as “dream on” or “in your dreams.” Dreams are scoffed at as meaningless, frivolous and silly. We are advised to start living in “the real world.”

We might answer: what is this “real world” exactly? Does it mean toiling all day to produce useless objects that make other people poorer and less happy? Does “real world” mean office insurance policies, efficiency targets, pension plans, political speeches, PowerPoint presentations, debt collection and corporate arse-licking? Is the “real world sensible, punctual, joyless”? Who is to say that all that stuff is not actually a fake world, a fantasy we create in order to distract ourselves from the real world—which is the one we inhabit inside our heads?

Both worlds are, after all, the products of imagination. I don’t see why one should be privileged as being more “real” than the other. The real trick is to bring these two worlds together, to harmonize our dreamworld and our dayworld. It would be foolish to pretend that taxes, electricity bills, service stations, mortgages and diapers don’t exist. They do. I often try to avoid them, but they come and get me in the end. That pile of bills or dirty clothes on the floor just does not seem to sort itself out. But it is equally risky to ignore our dreams.

By dreams I mean three related phenomena. One: the strange visions and stories that come into our heads while asleep. Two: the semi-conscious mind-wanderings referred to as daydreaming. Three: our visions of a better world, as implied in the phrase “follow your dreams.” Sometimes these are also known as “madcap schemes.”

The first step in embracing your dreamworld is to stop ignoring our amazing nocturnal explorations. Dreamland is the original cyberspace, our own built-in spiritual virtual reality. Dreams take us into other worlds, alternative realities that help us make sense of day-to-day life. Dreaming is a connection to our unconscious. Isn’t it extraordinary that an activity which takes up so much of our minds’ energy is so often relegated to the realms of unimportance?

In our dreams, our spirit roams free; we can fly, we can sing, we are good at things. I have dreams where I am brilliant at skateboarding, for example. We have erotic encounters with celebrities. Things are not what they appear. Reality, logic and reason fly out of the window. And this suspension of the daytime’s rules, the total lack of self-policing, can be a huge inspiration to the creative spirit.

The tune for the classic song “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. The idea for the novel Frankenstein revealed itself to the young Mary Shelley in a waking dream. Einstein said that a breakthrough in his theory of relativity came in a dream; René Descartes had a dream that set him on the path towards his whole philosophical system. Dmitry Mendeleyev dreamed up the Periodic Table after falling asleep at his desk. J. K. Rowling was staring out of the window on a train when the idea, plot and characters for Harry Potter popped into her head.

The art of living depends upon the skill of bringing dreams and reality together. The separation of the two into disconnected fields of human experience is a tragedy that we can see unfolding all around us. Work and life have become divorced, art and science, too. The specialists have taken over. The world of the mind is owned by psychologists, the world of government by political parties, the world of eating by supermarkets and food corporations. We follow someone else’s rules. We pay others for advice.

But “dreaming is free,” as Debbie Harry put it. It is completely outside of the commercial world. No one has managed to make money out of dreams, (unless you include the fees paid to Sigmund Freud and his disciples). There are no dream gadgets, or dream-machine factories. Perhaps it is precisely because dreams are free that we put so low a value on them. We are more interested in our new cars than in the contents of our own minds.

Both dreams and daydreams, as well as being a source of pleasure in themselves, can also be of practical use in helping us create visions of our ideal life. Once the vision is in place, then the life will eventually follow. The difficulty is that we get ourselves caught in a double bind: we work so hard that we do not allow ourselves time to dream, and therefore we continue to work hard because we have not had the time to dream up an alternative.

All too often, our consumer society equates our dreams with making a lot of money, or being famous, or both. Money and fame, we are led to believe (or allow ourselves to be fooled into believing) will bring us the freedom and independence that we crave. But dreams are not about money. They are about you, and they are about the quality of your life and imagination. Perhaps the reason why it sometimes seems so difficult to dream our own dreams. We are afraid of them, and so we deliberately avoid them.

Yet, we are naturally strong-willed creatures; anyone who has had children knows that little kids are imperious by nature. They will not be told what to do. That is why we have invented a series of tricks-–punishments, threats, bribes, treats, no TV, no chocolate-–designed to bend children to our will. In the same way, we adults have created a battery of techniques to oppress our own will and make it subservient. To be rich and famous seems like such a far-off dream that we are apt to give up completely and not even try to make tiny improvements to our lives.

Follow your dreams. This piece of advice is so often repeated that is has become a cliché. But it is worth reflecting on it for a moment. I used to lie in bed and imagine my ideal life. It went like this: live on the remote Scottish isle of Eigg (the most beautiful place in the world) and read and write all morning, and then chop logs and nap in the afternoon. I would then spend the evening in London, drinking in the Soho bars. Obviously that’s impossible. However, over the last seven years, I have lived in a beautiful place, worked on writing a book every morning, spend every afternoon in the garden, and spend evenings eating, drinking and talking. My dream, in essence, came true, even if the details may have changed.

Excerpted from the book How to Be Idle (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, ISBN 0241142512), an irreverent and refreshing handbook with an essay for each hour of the day.


Tom Hodgkinson, founder of England’s delightful and mischievous Idler magazine, is a radical champion of the simple but seemingly forgotten idea that there is more to life than work. He is also co-editor of the anthology The Idler’s Companion. www.idler.co.uk

Solution News Source

You have a dream!

Daydreams, fantasies and nocturnal explorations are practical tools that can help us lead more fulfilling lives. Tom Hodgkinson, Britain’s best-known professional daydreamer, explains the real trick: to harmonize our dreamworld and our dayworld.


Tom Hodgkinson | May 2005 issue

How we suffer for our dreams! How dismissive are the teachers, bureaucrats and cynics who tell us our visions are a waste of time. They warn us that we have our heads in the clouds, they lecture us to stop daydreaming. When we announce our grand schemes to our friends, they reply with a put-down such as “dream on” or “in your dreams.” Dreams are scoffed at as meaningless, frivolous and silly. We are advised to start living in “the real world.”

We might answer: what is this “real world” exactly? Does it mean toiling all day to produce useless objects that make other people poorer and less happy? Does “real world” mean office insurance policies, efficiency targets, pension plans, political speeches, PowerPoint presentations, debt collection and corporate arse-licking? Is the “real world sensible, punctual, joyless”? Who is to say that all that stuff is not actually a fake world, a fantasy we create in order to distract ourselves from the real world—which is the one we inhabit inside our heads?

Both worlds are, after all, the products of imagination. I don’t see why one should be privileged as being more “real” than the other. The real trick is to bring these two worlds together, to harmonize our dreamworld and our dayworld. It would be foolish to pretend that taxes, electricity bills, service stations, mortgages and diapers don’t exist. They do. I often try to avoid them, but they come and get me in the end. That pile of bills or dirty clothes on the floor just does not seem to sort itself out. But it is equally risky to ignore our dreams.

By dreams I mean three related phenomena. One: the strange visions and stories that come into our heads while asleep. Two: the semi-conscious mind-wanderings referred to as daydreaming. Three: our visions of a better world, as implied in the phrase “follow your dreams.” Sometimes these are also known as “madcap schemes.”

The first step in embracing your dreamworld is to stop ignoring our amazing nocturnal explorations. Dreamland is the original cyberspace, our own built-in spiritual virtual reality. Dreams take us into other worlds, alternative realities that help us make sense of day-to-day life. Dreaming is a connection to our unconscious. Isn’t it extraordinary that an activity which takes up so much of our minds’ energy is so often relegated to the realms of unimportance?

In our dreams, our spirit roams free; we can fly, we can sing, we are good at things. I have dreams where I am brilliant at skateboarding, for example. We have erotic encounters with celebrities. Things are not what they appear. Reality, logic and reason fly out of the window. And this suspension of the daytime’s rules, the total lack of self-policing, can be a huge inspiration to the creative spirit.

The tune for the classic song “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. The idea for the novel Frankenstein revealed itself to the young Mary Shelley in a waking dream. Einstein said that a breakthrough in his theory of relativity came in a dream; René Descartes had a dream that set him on the path towards his whole philosophical system. Dmitry Mendeleyev dreamed up the Periodic Table after falling asleep at his desk. J. K. Rowling was staring out of the window on a train when the idea, plot and characters for Harry Potter popped into her head.

The art of living depends upon the skill of bringing dreams and reality together. The separation of the two into disconnected fields of human experience is a tragedy that we can see unfolding all around us. Work and life have become divorced, art and science, too. The specialists have taken over. The world of the mind is owned by psychologists, the world of government by political parties, the world of eating by supermarkets and food corporations. We follow someone else’s rules. We pay others for advice.

But “dreaming is free,” as Debbie Harry put it. It is completely outside of the commercial world. No one has managed to make money out of dreams, (unless you include the fees paid to Sigmund Freud and his disciples). There are no dream gadgets, or dream-machine factories. Perhaps it is precisely because dreams are free that we put so low a value on them. We are more interested in our new cars than in the contents of our own minds.

Both dreams and daydreams, as well as being a source of pleasure in themselves, can also be of practical use in helping us create visions of our ideal life. Once the vision is in place, then the life will eventually follow. The difficulty is that we get ourselves caught in a double bind: we work so hard that we do not allow ourselves time to dream, and therefore we continue to work hard because we have not had the time to dream up an alternative.

All too often, our consumer society equates our dreams with making a lot of money, or being famous, or both. Money and fame, we are led to believe (or allow ourselves to be fooled into believing) will bring us the freedom and independence that we crave. But dreams are not about money. They are about you, and they are about the quality of your life and imagination. Perhaps the reason why it sometimes seems so difficult to dream our own dreams. We are afraid of them, and so we deliberately avoid them.

Yet, we are naturally strong-willed creatures; anyone who has had children knows that little kids are imperious by nature. They will not be told what to do. That is why we have invented a series of tricks-–punishments, threats, bribes, treats, no TV, no chocolate-–designed to bend children to our will. In the same way, we adults have created a battery of techniques to oppress our own will and make it subservient. To be rich and famous seems like such a far-off dream that we are apt to give up completely and not even try to make tiny improvements to our lives.

Follow your dreams. This piece of advice is so often repeated that is has become a cliché. But it is worth reflecting on it for a moment. I used to lie in bed and imagine my ideal life. It went like this: live on the remote Scottish isle of Eigg (the most beautiful place in the world) and read and write all morning, and then chop logs and nap in the afternoon. I would then spend the evening in London, drinking in the Soho bars. Obviously that’s impossible. However, over the last seven years, I have lived in a beautiful place, worked on writing a book every morning, spend every afternoon in the garden, and spend evenings eating, drinking and talking. My dream, in essence, came true, even if the details may have changed.

Excerpted from the book How to Be Idle (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, ISBN 0241142512), an irreverent and refreshing handbook with an essay for each hour of the day.


Tom Hodgkinson, founder of England’s delightful and mischievous Idler magazine, is a radical champion of the simple but seemingly forgotten idea that there is more to life than work. He is also co-editor of the anthology The Idler’s Companion. www.idler.co.uk

Solution News Source

SIGN UP

TO GET A Free DAILY DOSE OF OPTIMISM

Optimist Subscriber
Delivery Frequency *
reCAPTCHA

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy