There is dreaming: as the subconscious mind works through new experience and incorporates it to revisit and resolve existing dilemmas. There is daydreaming: creative imagination drawing from deep wellsprings of empathy, or even simply from a wish to temporarily step outside the bounds of the workplace, the schoolroom, the current trapped reality. And then there is visualisation: goal-oriented, always, and thus goal-focused in a way daydreaming can never be.
Dream gives us insight into our daily grind and ourselves. Visualisation takes us to our limits, and teaches us how to keep pushing those limits. But daydreaming uniquely gives us something entirely beyond and outside: sometimes a breath of fresh air in an enclosed cubicle, sometimes a passion to pursue, and sometimes something as simple as hope.
What we daydream is who we are. How could it be different? For whatever reason, the bounds of this reality have been found to be constricting – and so our mind casts free of the chains of the here and now, for a timeless instant or for hours on end. In time, we return, reluctantly or eagerly or in utter shock that we could have lost so much time. If a brief respite was all that was needed, we return refreshed and ready once again to face the world. If we are creatively-minded, perhaps a spark may ignite and create another “Kubla Khan”. Where daydream had interrupted a problem whose resolution was important to us, we may well return with a flash of blinding insight – and in this, daydream is sometimes not so very different from sleeping dream.
For a few, the daydream is born out of escape from an unbearable, hopeless reality. Maybe the daydream gives just enough lift to the spirit to be able to keep going. More likely, if the reality does not change, the daydream will begin to erode it, and then to consume it. Why live in the here and now, when it offers nothing to feed the soul?
Consequently it could well be argued that imaginative daydream is not a generally evolutionarily positive adaptation for an individualistic species. Active skills can easily be hampered by imagination: the climber who imagines falling too strongly may well be frozen in their ability to do anything at all. Imagination only finds a secure place within cooperation: where those with both imagination and the ability to translate imaginings into actuality can direct others to tasks where imagination would only hamper the accomplishment of those tasks. The general with imagination has an edge on the one without – but only if the soldiers under that general obey without questioning, something that requires “turning off” their own applied imagination. Yet even for those soldiers, daydream can give brief respites of escape – if nothing else, to serve as a constant reminder of a reason.
Where there is no daydream, there can be no curiosity, no imagination, no evocation of empathy: only an empty series of puzzle-solving actions channelling any remaining creative urge into societally-safe avenues.
Yet life is more than a puzzle-solving cycle of creation and destruction. Is there to be nothing of vision, or structure, or linkage, or purpose? Life and death carry meaning in more than each other’s existence. It may be in us to drift toward inertial entropy, but it is not in us simply to allow ourselves to be put together and torn apart. Something keeps us from completely spiralling to pieces. Something keeps us seeking.
Adding the concept of preservation to the cycle is still inadequate. When – if – they are in balance: what keeps them in balance? What keeps one or another from devouring the others? Weave the whole world into a finished tapestry and no potential remains, only a completed whole that has nowhere left to go. Unravel the tapestry, start again, afresh, anew – and what was the point of all that had gone before? What binds the flax, threads, completed work, shredding? Where sources the design?
Work with the pattern of the triskelion, then. Create – but draw the creation from what lies beyond its strict boundaries: call it daydream, call it potential, call it the creative fountainhead. Bring the daydreamed creation into the bound world – to share with others, call it a reason for seeking. The world is bound together by that sharing, by that caring, by that communication. Draw it together against entropy to preserve long enough to share. And, when its time is done, let it drift into entropy and back into daydream, that its place might be taken by something new, built with the raw starstuff of the quantum universe, built with the old world stuff of all that has gone before and is and will come again.
Compassion binds us into a single, linked whole. Individuality reaches into the creative principle to drive it. Without dream, there is nothing beyond the relentless limits of the spinning wheel. Without love, it destroys itself. Our greatest strength lies in our diversity – as does our greatest potential for unbalanced destruction.
Five parts – and without daydream and without empathy, what remains except existence and non-existence? and what makes either one any more valuable than the other? Life in death, death in life, no diversity, no value.
We are more than a sackful of chemical reagents interacting in predictable cycles. We have a spirit which yearns for something more. And because we are seekers, we can dream. It is the essence of who we are.