The Power of Daydreams

(Crossposted from Silk And Shadows. Leave a comment there this week for a chance to win a copy of Shiloh Walker’s THROUGH THE VEIL.)

When I was a teen, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Vail, Colorado, babysitting my cousins on a ski vacation.  It was awesome.  I’d never been downhill skiing before, and I got to take classes and accompany my aunt and uncle and the kids (who were waaaay better than me) on some of the easier runs.

If you’ve ever been skiing in Colorado, I don’t need to describe it, but for the rest of you, I will just say: Heaven. Celestial blue skies. The softest, whitest, downy snow. An intense and all-encompassing feeling of floating and joy. (When I wasn’t yard sale-ing — or we could say sailing — across half the slope.)

vail{This photo of a $2800/night mountain-side chalet is NOT where we stayed; but the beauty is the same, free, and everywhere.}

One night near the end of our stay, my aunt and uncle had gone for a nice dinner and the kids were asleep. I stepped out onto the balcony.  Our room faced a walkway through the pines, with the pale bulk of the mountain beyond.  It was late, but the reflection of hotel lights off the snow made the night glow.  Drifting snowflakes (like the rain in the fairy world of Summerland, I swear it only snowed at night in Vail) glimmered like falling stars in the dark.

I thought, This is where I want to be.

Fast forward, oh, about seven years. 

That last serene image of Vail had stayed with me over time and distances. I would conjure it up in my head when I was stressed about finals in college, when I was studying abroad, and at my first less than inspiring full-time job.

One day, looking through want-ads, I saw an opening at a newspaper in Vail, Colorado.  And I made my daydream a reality.

Later, I read books about manifesting your reality. I read how your brain — trapped in a cage of bone and goo — has no way to experience the “real” world except through your senses. If you can imagine something clearly enough — see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it — as far as your brain is concerned, that’s reality.  Eventually, your imagination can become reality.

Run amok, this process leads to mental illness, true.  But since we’re using our powers for good…

Daydream + Action plan + Perserverance = Your shiny new reality

Daydreams without the other two elements are perfectly lovely, of course.  A few minute’s mental vacation on a snowy mountain night is entirely enough.  Not everybody wants to turn that into living in a ski bum town for two years, paying $700 a month to sleep in a heated shed (no bathroom) between two single-wide trailers for the honor of coming up with another sudden illness every time the fresh powder falls.  Sometimes even shiny new realities aren’t quite the same as the daydream.

But I think the power of a daydream to relax and revive and delight us is the knowledge that it could become so much more, given the right circumstances and impetus.

After all, writing started as a daydream for me.

caribbean-vacationMy new daydreaming escape is also based on an old family vacation.  When I was young, my parents took my sister and me to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands.  (And, yes, what my sheltered suburban upbringing sadly lacked in future source material for lurid angsty tell-alls, it more than made up for in loving, generous family members who believed new experiences were more important than stuff.)  The Caribbean was, to my imagination, as epic as Vail in its own way.  I’d never been snorkeling before, but oddly, the ocean was the same color as the Colorado sky.

One evening, we walked through town on one of the islands. The sky had turned a peachy red fading to blue, the colors echoed in the hanging baskets of flowers.  The air was as perfectly warm as the water, at once decadent and pure. 

I could as easily have been a beach bum as a ski bum.  Just sayin.’

One of these days, I’ll make it back to that island, and then I’ll need a new, new daydream. But for now, I’m savoring every minute in paradise.

When you daydream, is it about old places, or places you’ve never been?

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