The smell of Marlborough cigarettes; the din of soccer finals on TV; the sound of dice against a backgammon board - my lover and I let it all wash over us as we drink cognac in the little seaside café. Outside, the rain pelts the muddy pot holes of the square, eventually washing out into the Aegean Sea.
All it takes is a downpour outside the suburban café where I now sit, and I’m off – daydreaming about something that happened 15 years ago. The rain is pounding the muddy banks of Melbourne’s Yarra, which looks nothing at all like the Aegean.
Daydreaming is the stuff of time wasters. No hopers. Dole bludgers. I’m sure that was what my grade six teacher was thinking when he wrote that ‘Spiri daydreams too long before she starts her work…’ in my school report. When, all the while, I was just getting my head ready to tackle those long-division sums.
There were lots of famous people whose daydreaming helped them creatively - John Lennon, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe to name a few.
But you need not have Einstein’s IQ or Twain’s talent to be a daydreamer. We daydream for about one-third of our waking hours, according to Eric Klinger, a clinical psychologist at the University of Minnesota. And there’s compelling evidence to say that it’s good for us – it helps us to relax, and to create, to visualize and to hope. It’s so refreshing to be unavailable – even just for a few minutes. In a daydream there are no bleeps and flashes, no missed calls and bulging in-boxes.
For me, a daydream is a blissful pause; a decadent space where long forgotten memories can surface; where tricky problems may get solved. Occasionally I get lucky in a daydream, and the muse offers me creative gifts from a deeper place. The challenge then is to quickly find a pencil and a bit of paper on which to write my insights before they disappear into the ether of mundane thought.
There's no forumula for how to daydream. Relax and let thoughts float into consciousness, unbidden and unchecked, like a sentence without punctuation. It’s like a brainstorm; only there’s no one else there to tell you that your ideas stink.
I’m a daydreamer, and proud of it. After all, I’ve just come back from drinking cognac with my lover in a rain-soaked square on the other side of the world. And it’s helped me to remember why I still love the man who now takes the bins out after our kids have gone to bed.