A side effect of parenting is rarely getting to be alone. Even if presented with a snippet of time in a day where no one needs anything, my head space is filled with thoughts of what’s next, what’s for dinner, or what’s that smell. As a result, I don’t dread long drives. It lets me enjoy my own company.
In public school I had a 40-minute bus ride to school. I would spend it focused on a point just outside the window, filling in blanks of the countryside monotony by weaving stories in my head. It kept me out of the soap opera antics playing out on the bus, and since I can’t read when in motion, it kept me awake. Because falling asleep would have been a fate worse than death in that crowd.
Ever survive a summer vacation family road trip? In a compact car pulling a pop-up trailer, where a muskrat attacked your rubber boot and your parents locked the keys (but not their booze) in the car in a rainy mosquito-infested campground outside Canmore? I did. The photo album of that trip has multiple pictures of a groggy me, blinking at sunlight and reality after being wrenched from my daydream perch in the back window of our Valarie* to stand next to a giant fibreglass muskie or elk.
My kids now gaze dreamily out the window as the outside world slips past on our road trips. They too suffer from motion sickness, we don’t do traveling DVD players. Instead once the “are we there yets?” wear down, and the trinket toys become boring, they are comfortable being lost in thought. Randomly they will ask a question or when offered a penny, share a thought that shows their mind has been traipsing along the paths of potential and imagination.
I believe we should be living a life we dream about. Are you tuned into the programming on your daydream channel? Try it. Get lost enough in your thoughts that you miss your exit on the 401. Lost enough that you find something you didn’t know you needed, like I did.
* hidden age reference. When I was a kid it was routine to slide across expansive vinyl back seats beside three or four siblings, whining when the flapping seat belts scratched the back of our legs. I was skinny, short, and pliable enough that when traffic was light I rode on the backseat window ledge. It wasn’t a lack of parental concern, it was simply a lead-paint, seat belts optional, smoke anywhere/anytime era.