I’m a bit of a daydreamer, I’ve always been prone to bouts of vivid imagination; childhood memories of numerous flights of fancy running through my head whilst I sat at my desk ignoring my homework. Watching the world through a rain soaked window I’d drift off time and time again.
I wasn’t an only child, although at times it felt like I was, so solitude was something I grew up with and I’d find myself seeking it out more often than not, content to be lost in my own little world. Perhaps this is why, to this day, I still like long train journeys so I can indulge myself in this wonderful distraction, this quiet hobby. The steady movement of a train, the ever changing scenery providing a backdrop to whatever I desire. Stories and ideas flow through my head. Thoughts of others mingle with desires and on I dream as the day floats by.
For the longest time I used to view daydreaming as a pointless exercise, a whimsical waste of time that I tried to rid myself of but the admonishments were futile and, as I get older, I realise that I crave those moments of idle calm and the contemplation of nothing in particular, sneaking an illicit slice of nonsense into my day. I find myself seeking them out, a short walk around the building if I’m at work, grabbing an empty meeting room for a few moments, or just zoning out as I sit and stare at the sky.
In the past I used to walk much more than I do now. I can remember many days when I’d leave college and rather than heading for the nearest train station I’d start walking, skipping one station after another as I meandered along, lost in my head. I would lose track of time, and at times location, a habit I’ll admit also happens when I’m driving… that sudden realisation that you can’t quite remember where your feet have taken you for the last 10 minutes was always an odd one.
The occasional sleepless mornings would also see me take to the streets; A summer morning at 5am, neighbours still snoring as I quietly let myself out the back door and wandered off. An hour later, still bleary and tired I’d realise where I was and wonder what route I’d taken to get there. With no-one around I’d ponder if I’d walked out of time altogether, if the people had all left the town without telling me, was I alone? And then a car would appear and reality was restored.
I know I’m not alone in this, that others find comfort within themselves at times, and usually a wandering path and no sense of time or destination is all that’s needed. It’s not a call for melancholy, not always at least – occasionally I’ll consider myself in quiet contemplation, introspection if you will – but most times it’s nothing of note, scenarios re-imagined, memories jumbled together to create new visions of an unrealistic future. Lottery wins, heroic acts, escaping fate.
In my past I’ve wondered just how much of this behaviour, this pandering to solitude, I’ve manufactured? Was it a way to seem distant and moody, was I trying to be the complex young man crying out for attention? Perhaps at times I did veer down that path, yet looking back I can see that sometimes it was a form of coping mechanism, a way to deal with life when things weren’t going so great. And tell me, where is better to go if you aren’t happy where you are, anywhere of course! And so, in my head, I did just that.
These days I find myself carefully considering how I spend my time, making sure I’m allowing myself a few small moments on my own. Do I need this quiet escape as a balance for the more frantic times in my life, or do I use balance as an excuse to seek out solitude? I’m still not fully sure and I’ve no real inclination to try and figure it out. I am who I am. Faulty but not broken, content and happy.
It’s odd writing about being alone when I am just that at this very moment. At home, on my own, writing.
I’d love to portray a romantic vision; a description of the ornate antique desk at which I’m sitting, the way the soft leather in my chair creaks as I gently move back and forth, gathering my thoughts and contemplating the next line of prose. I’d describe the dark deepness of the red wine in the glass at my side, the way the dimmed lamps soften the evening, and how the gentle crackle of the LP spinning on the deck on the other side of the room quietly sets the mood.
Alas, the desk is modern, the music is electronic and seeping from the speakers in my laptop. There is no wine, no leather chair. And whilst the wind is rippling the trees outside my window I am not ensconced in a cosy cottage at the end of a country lane, miles from anywhere, I am in a modern flat in a modern city.
But it’s nice to dream.