“Humans are capable of a unique trick, creating realities by first imagining them, by experiencing them in their minds. …As soon as we sense the possibility of a more desirable world, we begin behaving differently, as though that world is starting to come into existence, as though, in our mind’s eye, we are already there. The dream becomes an invisible force which pulls us forward. By this process it begins to come true. The act of imagining somehow makes it real… And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life”.
Today I had the most delicious serendipitous discovery while visiting the world of the Totnes Transition Towns. I spotted this quote above by my favorite musical artist, Brian Eno.
A word about my screen name . . . Like most people who are old enough to look back over some decades, some major life milestones, I have become more profoundly convinced there is no ‘arrival’ in life. Had we all been taught through fairy tales that ended, “And they lived, they changed, they lost, they started over and over again, sometimes in deep pain and sometimes happily - ever after" - we might have been better prepared . . .
Okay, that might be a hard sell, but it might disengage us from the silly vision of a static, happy state of bliss. (I won’t even touch the other major flaw for women – that some guy called prince, savior or hero must step in to make it all okay for us. Blech.)
I enrolled in college after a ten year hiatus of marriage, bearing two children, years of restaurant work, human services work, retail wage slavery and establishing a home.
In my college creative writing classes I wrote a short story that was autobiographical. Well it wasn’t my actual life; it was my projection, my view of an ideal life at retirement age for me. The setting was an earth sheltered home in the mountains of Colorado. I incorporated my best friend into the story and included my dreams of my children’s lives. I described a glass wall that revealed the earth’s layers for the room my son, a geologist used when he visited. Everything was solar powered and I grew my own food. It didn’t happen that way in real life.
Sometimes I felt like my path had changed and I would not be returning to an earlier dream. There was a period in my life as a reader where I saw myself as a writer, like the protagonist ‘Anna’ in the short story. That part of me craved the city, the exposure to great minds, great art, great daily interactions with the people around me. I wanted to express what burned inside me, especially as I felt drawn to other women who were living in this patriarchal structure. I felt it a calling and thought that the written word could touch more people and be more effective. I was growing more and more solitary, compared with the gregarious template of my upbringing.
I did have this experience, in my own way, in Manhattan. But, I didn’t touch lives with the written word. I touch thousands of lives through the world of commercial design; from laying out workstations for hundreds, thousands of workers in 23 different NYC government agencies, through my work as project manager of the Statue of Liberty Gift Concession redesign after the botched Centennial in the 80’s.
Lots of remembering and forgetting in a life of interconnected longings.
These images, urges and drives are all still within me, though many have been sated or transfigured into new shapes. What I am most happy about is the envisioning itself. I feel masterful in the act of daydreaming. I believe I might be able to teach a course on it. And, I believe in it. Did I mention that, in my opinion, daydreaming is a mix of seriously practical planning tools, whimsy, risk, audacity and trust?
In my own life this is emphatically true. A young woman who stopped outside my door with her friend one day to ask if she could photograph my place. She told me that my home and how I had a raised garden, wormery, found object art etc. was exactly what she wanted for herself. I assured her she would have it. I said, “I am 60 and it took many daydreams, many little steps to get here.”
And, it is not over . . . I’m just buzzing inside. I also spotted this earth sheltered home at Dwell today. This is what hurtled me back to my writing about ‘Anna’ in the earth sheltered home on the Colorado mountainside so many years ago. A rush of memories came back to me and I bookmarked this information along with the dozens of other straw bale and other alternative housing websites I’ve collected over the years. This post cites a book called $50 and Up Underground House Book that looks inviting.
What we are experiencing in this country is chilling. I rely heavily on my visions, my dreams to continue.
Update: I think I should give some daydreaming, envisioning examples. One always hears whistful statements like, "If I could afford to live in ___, I would move there." I just read that in the comments section at Shakesville blog. For the record, I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on my entry level $20K salary - with my teenage daughter. I am now living in a So. California coastal community on less than 10K a year. There are ways around common knowledge or conventional thinking. There are choices and trade-offs, and that is the magical push-pull process of planning and dreaming.