Daydreaming is contagious. All traffic jams are a result of one person daydreaming, which spreads from car to car. “Do you want me to stab you in your lungs right here on this highway?” is a phrase closely associated with daydream pandemics, which typically occur when two lanes are merging near construction sites.
What to Daydream:
“I want to daydream more, but I don’t know what to daydream about,” a lot of people probably say. For that reason, they keep rehashing the same old daydream scenarios:
THE LOTTERY You aren’t going to win the lottery. Stop fantasizing about the cars you’ll buy, the vacations you’ll take, the house you’ll build. Stop imagining quitting your job, the speech you’ll make while systematically destroying office property. You wouldn’t have the guts to do that even if you did win, which you most certainly will not. What you need to be doing is daydreaming about better ways to do your current job. If you weren’t spending so much time incorrectly daydreaming, you’d probably have earned that promotion by now.
SEX By all means, have sexual fantasies. Sleep with better-looking people. Have intercourse in trees. But under no circumstances should you daydream about fornicating with nearby co-workers. Colleagues can tell when you’ve been daydreaming about having sex with them, and it’s an unprofessional way to spend company time. Some whiz kid is probably months away from inventing an app that can decipher whether you’re fantasizing about co-workers, or whether you’re just fantasizing about normal people who will never have sex with you.
CELEBRITIES Stop it already. Celebrity cameos are just the kind of infantile escapism that gives daydreaming a bad rap. “I bet George Clooney and Brad Pitt and I would have a great time on a cross-country road trip,” you might have daydreamed. Well, they wouldn’t. They would be totally freaked out that you’re sitting around daydreaming about driving them around the country when you’re supposed to be working.
HEROICS This is a tricky area of daydream ethics. Society needs everyday heroes, but most heroic daydreams are about scoring the winning touchdown, or hitting the home run. If the daydream is not sports-related, it’s terrorist-related — tackling the suicide bomber, defeating a terrorist cell in a shootout using your iPhone Call of Duty training. But no one daydreams about donating blood, or volunteering for Meals on Wheels. We’re a nation of extremes and it’s infected our daydreams.
Daydreaming about being a better person, or positive things happening to loved ones, or flying through the office on a dragon that thinks one of your co-workers has stolen her dragon things — these are all dynamic mental breaks that can prepare you for an afternoon of cheerfully cleaning lint out of your keyboard. To become an efficient daydreamer, you needn’t dwell on quantum mechanics or solve complex algorithms; you simply need to blow off a little steam so you don’t get overstressed and have a nervous breakdown in front of your computer screen.
What type of fast food will the aliens prefer when they arrive and will it be the ultimate undoing of their civilization? If you were living in a world of all puppets, could you just assume you would be in charge because you’d be smarter and stronger and all fleshy? Or would you be ridiculed because of your minority non-puppet status? What if someone invents a machine that can read trees’ thoughts, and it turns out they spend the day laughing at us? These are some solid, intellectual quandaries for your next daydreaming stint.
In closing, do not daydream about the problems in your life, the evil in the world, the troubles around the next bend. That is what real life is for. Instead, daydream about things that make you smile. No summer workday is complete without a grown person staring at the wall, just laughing.
Jon Methven is the author of the novel “This Is Your Captain Speaking.”
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