When I was about 11, my mum woke me up one morning with a plan. We were going to catch a train up the center of the Australian continent, then sail to Indonesia and spend a few months island hopping.
Nothing was going to stop us: not the fact that we didn’t have the money, not the fact that we didn’t have the time, or that we had no reasonable expectation of ever doing it. Didn’t matter. We planned. We researched. I mean, we cut photos out of travel agency brochures.
It was time well spent.
So yesterday, when I accidentally squandered my dedicated “Creativity Time” on preschool logistics for Lila, I didn’t sweat it too hard. Because it didn’t feel like logistics. Helping Lila get ready to embark on her life at forest school this fall has the same exact quality for me as imagining an intrepid journey across desert and sea.
I love imagining how my days will look in some imaginary future time. When will I wake up? What will I eat? How will I feel? Will I affect a French accent? Will I have an interesting scar?
It’s as though by projecting myself forward into events that may never happen I can live multiples lifetimes at once. I’m greedy that way.
You know those studies that show that your brain can’t tell the difference between you lifting a weight and imagining lifting a weight? (If this is wrong, don’t @ me, the last thing I need right now is a new workout routine.)
This research suggests that there are experiences we have, and experiences we only imagine having, but that there’s maybe no big qualitative difference between them. To me, both kinds of experience are scarily alike. When I look back at them, sometimes I remember my imagined inventures as being way richer and more life-changing than the disappointing, bedbug-strewn adventurous realities.
Life lesson: imaginary adventures tend not to contain bedbugs. If yours do, seek help.
At any rate, because I’m a massive square (read: Virgo), my dreaming is unfashionably dominated by logistics. Because it’s fun for me, okay? I can squeeze three lifetimes of school dropoff playlist design and lunchbox fruit combinations into one late summer afternoon.
Mum and I never caught the Ghan to Darwin or sailed between islands on an archipelago when I was a pre-teen. But that adventure was one of the greatest of my life.