the art of daydreaming

the art of daydreaming

by Kirk Hensler originally published on Rebelle Society on April 17th, 2013.

I wake up every day with the feeling that something is missing. No matter how much work I do, how well I eat, or how much I exercise I can’t quite get full inside.

Something is missing…


When I woke up this morning and poured some granola in a bowl for breakfast, I was hoping that something special would happen, but nothing did. I sat down to the realization that my granola was in fact just granola and it tasted exactly like granola tastes every day.

I wanted to wake up and eat pastries but I don’t always have the sense of freedom to do things out of the ordinary. Plus pastries have no nutritional value. I’d rather find my imaginary chef preparing an omelet with farm fresh ingredients. Perhaps he would occasionally make gluten free pancakes when I did something exceptional the night before. I would have them with real maple syrup.

If it didn’t seem like I was pushing it, I would invite the vocals of my staff musician to accompany me while eating breakfast. She would be a gifted singer, pianist, and guitarist. I prefer this to the stereo.

But I ate granola between four walls that I see every morning and I prepared myself for a day of work. Maybe I wore a different shirt than the day before or I got stopped at an intersection I usually pass straight through but everything was feeling the same.

I daydream…


I imagine the smell of the air in a place I’ve never been before, a place with history, like Europe. The people dress better and they move about more cohesively than what I’m used to. I spend every moment in the present because it’s all too new to miss. I can feel the freshness of life and culture and I want it to crawl all over my body and be naked to each experience.

Sometimes I sit with these foreign strangers and drink tea in the afternoon. We’re usually sitting on some wrought iron chairs, where the paint is chipping but the integrity is still there. I have an amazing paperback on hand, and I smoke cigarettes. I really love it when they drink wine in the afternoon.

Other days I’m in the mountains practicing Kung Fu with the monks. I think it’s China. We’re usually training with BO staffs and I get roughed up a lot. I’m bigger than them but they are so quick, they have a special relationship with the Earth that allows them to move differently.

I pay close attention, trying to understand the secret, but I only get pieces. It will take me a lifetime to understand it all, just like it did for them. I like it when they tease me about my blonde hair and I wish I could live among them for years but I know I will need the city before long.

Under a deeper layer I see a girl. She’s a mystery, but I know I’m supposed to love her. I get glimpses of her skin, her clothes, and her hair. Everything is dark, even the surface of her attitude. She is troubled, but I trust her. I see her pain; it looks like mine. I don’t feel so alone.

She stands in front of me with the wind blowing hair across her face. Her lips are full and when the wind is just right, she looks up and I see her big brown eyes. Her gaze is piercing at first because she is looking for a reason not to trust me. She doesn’t find one and her eyes slowly soften halfway towards her heart. I walk up to her and grab her hand. It’s cold at first but it warms up quickly against mine. Without saying anything, we walk down the street.

There are memories inside of me of things that haven’t happened yet, or at least I don’t remember them. It’s possible they exist from another life, but it’s not something I can count on.

I don’t like the thought of holding on to a past when I could be searching for a future. Perhaps it’s a glitch in the system, information from the immeasurable dimensions of the universe flying into my mind space so I can have some clue where I’m supposed to head.


James Dean & Marilyn Monroe / Photo via Tumblr

But why stop at daydreaming?

The first time I ate mushrooms was in college. I didn’t make it 30 minutes before I was rubbing my face on the side of a speaker in someone’s living room in the middle of a party because the music sounded so good that I wanted to be inside of it. My friend grabbed me and said it was time to go.

On the walk home through the woods, I sat and talked to every plant that would pay attention to me. I hugged them and petted the grass and made promises to live a more conscious life. Later, I sat on a dryer and wrapped my whole body up in toilet paper, scaring people as they opened the door to change loads.

I realized that there was no actual separation between reality, imagination, myself, and the universe. It was all there just waiting to be realized.

We each have a whole world that belongs to just us. We’ve created it and we’re the only native speakers. We can go there often when we need a little hope or inspiration. It’s not a coping mechanism; we exist in the normal world just fine. It’s a portal into our inner universe. It looks like what we want this lifetime to look like. And because we dream about it, we can see it and believe it and create it in reality.

I’m directed by glimpses when there is a greater connection, a deeper meaning behind a simple act. It tastes familiar. There’s a spark, some sign. In one look I can know someone’s entire life, like a light was turned on in a small, mushy part of my brain, a place where the spirits store the secret files.

And in one act of opening the lips in preparation for speech, I can realize that I share the same language with someone else. A vast well of secrets reserved for a lifetime spent between two people, available in a single moment. In these moments—the bridges between imagination and reality—I find nothing missing.

Our imagination is a map for what our lives want to look like, and if we’re open, what they will look like. It is becoming difficult to tell the difference between our dreams and our reality, and it’s better this way, it makes for more possibilities. Curiosity keeps us hungry and pushes us towards experiences that carry deep and hidden significance.

I can walk to any store on any morning and eat any pastry I want. There is no confinement in reality; it only comes from our mind’s evil twin. The same place that allows us to dream big can force us to live small.

A prison doesn’t have to be steel bars and a cell; it can be the structure of the human skull. Inside is a vast tool that will create and destroy with equal enjoyment. The boundaries need to be pushed or they shrink down to one straight line, headed right for the death of our souls. But our imagination keeps our souls alive and filled with hope.  

Our imagination is infinite and so is our life.

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