HomeIn the StudioA Daydreaming Rain

The summer green is washed in rain. The air is thick with moisture, and saturated with the lovely static of quiet rain. The tin roof of my studio provides the bass for this ambient music, the oak and maple that hang over its steep A-framed roof dropping from their happy leaves their rain collections in fat drops that sound almost like footsteps compared to the gentle laughter of rain in the forest. It is perhaps, one of my favorite kind of days: rainy but warm, so that the windows are open to this delicate ambiance, and glossy gray. The wet quiet dampens the blaze of the left-brain with its lists and important matters, and the right-brain stretches and yawns and spreads out her fingers, happy with the opportunity to stretch out without the domineering other half yielding its influence.

An unfinished self-portrait with a book on the science of creativity.

I’ve been reading the book Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. Its filled with lots of brain science and interesting experiments, all fleshed out with profiles of autistic surfers and painters and inventors. A particular anecdote that interested me was about Jonathan Schooler, and his daily practice of a daydreaming walk, which he developed as a result of his own research. Schooler is a pyschologist who studies insight. What a lovely thing to study! Anyway, his lab has “demonstrated that people who consistently engage in more daydreaming score significantly higher on measures of creativity” (p. 48). He has refined understanding of daydreaming to the extent that we know what makes a productive daydreaming session, in terms of enriching one’s creativity. Apparently, maintaining awareness of one’s daydreaming is critical to reaping its benefits. Otherwise, we are just zoning out.  So he makes time in his day to purposely engage in daydreaming.  He has no agenda, just lets his mind wander with his feet, though he is paying close attention to his wandering mind, lest it should have a moment of insight.

I’m well aware that my creativity, especially my writing, benefits from my own meandering walks down to the river. I’ve called these walks “poem-hunting.” And while I’ve yet to make it a daily practice, days like today, when the left-brain’s burning lists of things to do are squelched in rain-static, make it clear to me that there are great benefits to making time for my daydreaming self.


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