"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often the essence of what we do,” writes Thomas Pynchon in his essay on Sloth. "Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll and Hyde, the benzine ring: history is full of stories of inspiration that came in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbrickers, and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions, and masterpieces than the hardworking." - Tim Kreider
I spend more time in my mind than in reality. Is this healthy or productive? Maybe, maybe not.
First, I want to understand why I retreat into my mind so often. Is it a defense mechanism? A distraction from the stress and pain of real-world experiences? Not that I have a lot of struggles to endure...but I could have developed this habit early on in childhood. I think we all experience some level of trauma as kids, and then find ways to cope with it. These tendencies can last far into adulthood.
But I want to weigh the pros and cons of daydreaming. On one hand, I feel like I'm more capable of creative thinking. When I spend time in my own head, my imagination takes me to weird and interesting places. And as Einstein proclaimed "Imagination is more important than reality."
At the same time, I think that daydreaming has held me back a lot in life. Sometimes I cling to certain ideas or opinions far longer than I should, simply because I'm not immersed enough in the real world. Every now and then, I need the curt words of a close friend or family member to snap me out of my waking daydreams.
So like most things in life, maybe it's just a matter of finding a balance. I want to maintain the creative benefits of daydreaming, but still not lose touch with the real world. I want to maintain a broad imagination without forsaking my human responsibilities and societal expectations.
Maybe I just need to set aside specific a specific time and place for daydreaming. Like through the park on a quiet morning, or having a long soak in a warm bath tub.
And I shouldn't neglect the importance of being social. I feel like many of my best breakthroughs came from bouncing ideas off of others. We need other people to keep us grounded, and to play the devil's advocate with our ideas.
Because I think that's a trap in which many smart, creative people get stuck. They get too caught up in their worldview, that they lose perspective.
So stay humble, stay creative, and find a balance between wild daydreams and real life.