I daydream a lot. Always have.
Most of the time, I play the hero in my dreams. When baseball season starts, I’m the star pitcher or the batter who gets the big hit to win the World Series. I’m the defensive back who busts up a wide-open play by the offense. I’m a war hero in a battle for the Middle East. I’m the dad in a big multi-cultural family who helps rescue kids from horrible environments.
I’m just a big kid, aren’t I?
I don’t know any other adults who dream like that. Of course, I’ve never had an “adult” conversation about daydreams with anyone.
I’ve never asked. Probably because it seems so silly.
Maybe that’s the point.
We take ourselves far too seriously.
Look at all the troubles that fill the 6 o’clock news and the front page of the local newspaper. School shootings. Tariffs penalizing people trying to make a living (in other countries, true). Scandals in sports. Scandals in politics. Abortion. Sex everywhere, of all types, including harassment. Road rage.
We’re not happy with our jobs. Our spouses. Our roads. Our neighbors. Ourselves.
And on and on.
We’re always angry and never satisfied.
Will we ever be?
Perhaps we need to take a deep breath, look up, and realize that the world isn’t as bad as we make it out to be.
Or, perhaps it is. Because we make it that way.
Can we dream of something better? Instead of playing the hero, like I often do, can we dream of a better society?
Are such daydreams real?
Here’s where children can lead us – as long as they haven’t grown up yet.
I began mentoring a 9-year-old boy in Cleveland this week, who said his dad wants to move the family to Arizona because the inner city is too violent.
Wow. I’m sure this 9-year-old has seen things that I can’t fathom.
How is he supposed to dream?
I’ve been involved with an after-school creative problem-solving organization called Destination Imagination (DI) for more than a decade. I’ve been a regional “challenge master” for the Fine Arts challenge for two years now. It’s wonderful to see how creative elementary, middle school and secondary school students can get when solving problems placed before them.
This year, the students had to create a two-act musical that features a “spectacle” – combining two production techniques from a list that includes dance, pantomime, illusion and parody, among others – and design a set change into the 8-minute skit. They had other tasks to perform as well during their presentation.
The challenges – DI offers eight of them, with Fine Arts being only one – were announced last summer. Teams formed last fall, and students worked on their solutions for months.
The students dreamed up all kinds of solutions. They worked as a team to come up with the best skit they could.
Our regional tournament was last weekend, with the most creative teams earning the right to compete at the state level in three weeks. The national, actually global, finals are in Knoxville, Tenn., in late May.
No two solutions were the same. I didn’t get to watch most of the performances, because as the head honcho, I was dealing with logistics, problem-solving (there was very little of this; the event ran smoothly) and handing out scores to the participants.
The props and costumes I saw were awesome. I’m sure the story lines were as well. (I couldn’t share details even if I knew them because other regional tournaments are still being held, and we can’t give away secrets.)
Solutions must be creative
Wouldn’t it be cool if our corporate leaders and politicians could work together like that?
Yelling, screaming and pointing fingers are not options at DI events. Ever. That’s not how you solve problems. Our young people know that.
How did we adults forget?
Where did our creativity go?
The Destination Imagination Facebook page posted this story awhile ago, on helping older children develop a sense of imagination.
It offers suggestions like tell collaborative stories, try improv (also one of Destination Imagination’s challenges) and lighten up.
Play. Get outside. Dream. Think outside the box. Get creative. Work together.
I’ve become too serious myself recently. A thought hit me the other day that might help explain that.
For more than 20 years as an adult, I played slow-pitch softball. For nearly 10 years, I also played Ultimate Frisbee – not in a league or anything, just for fun.
I haven’t done either for five or six years.
I try to walk/jog once or twice a week (with no headphones; I let my mind wander where it wants to go), so I’m still getting some exercise. So, what’s my issue?
I’m a guy. By definition, the male species has aggression. It’s the way we are wired, including extreme introverts like me.
With softball and Ultimate, I threw things. Literally. That’s how I released my emotions.
As an outfielder, I threw that softball as hard as I could into the infield. Sometimes I gave a loud “aaach.” My teammates sometimes asked, “Are you OK?” They though I hurt myself. No, I’m fine. I’m just letting out my aggression on that softball.
Or, I threw a flying disc (Frisbee is a trade name). Sometimes, I threw that disc as hard as I could.
Why do guys play with guns, race cars, take advantage of girls, hack computers and do all sorts of other inappropriate things?
We aren’t allowed to show aggression at all in today’s society. We have to play nice.
But we have to let it out somehow.
A better world
But if we could dream of a better world, a place where we had positive outlets for our aggression, seek creative solutions for problems …
We are all on the same team, really. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
If only we could respect each other, live with each other, work together, celebrate (not criticize) our differences …
That’s a dream worth pursuing.
The future of our country, and our very lives, may be at stake.
And our children just might hold the right keys.