The effacement of attention: are kids capable of dreams?
Everything we sense has the potential to cast us into another world: an ethereal space before speech and words, before convention, before thought. A space where pure sensation meets experience.
The space is formed before understanding begins. We enter the space before we are aware of it. But it all begins with a simple movement. We could be closing our eyes to sleep, certainly. Or we could be walking down our street, sitting with coffee, driving home. The size of the movement does not matter. What matters is that small, often unnoticeable gesture, where we open ourselves to the world.
So much of what we do now is scheduled and optimized and efficient. We move and hurry with purpose and intent, thinking not about the step we're taking, but the 10 steps ahead. We are rarely here, always there, always somewhere else just up ahead.
We could call this daydreaming because we are in another world, but this world is one of limited possibility. We have eliminated surprise and spontaneity. And are these two elements not two of the great joys in life? Perhaps the two most fickle joys as well.
These small gestures of openness are essential because these movements are where we dream, where we imagine the possibilities, where anything can happen.
As I write, I'm wondering if I've already eliminated this connection to the daydream world from my daughters’ days.
Between school and sports, when are they left inattentive, when will they learn to let their minds wander, when will they daydream, let alone sit and breathe without agenda and come to rest. When are they at peace, thoughts wandering, stepping into an interior space unknown and familiar? Where can they connect with their dreams and latent potential, with the pure sensation of the world?
Is our world capable of this space any longer? With the effacement of attention, how are we to locate a space where attention is allowed to blur, where inattention is the price of entry, where we focus on nothing?
And yet, this act of dreaming is crucial. Our survival and peace of mind depend on our ability to dream. To be in a state of complete stillness, thinking of nothing, feeling everything, we unlock, we explore, we are connected to the potential in each thing we sense.
If we do not help our kids protect their dreamstate, how will they ever learn how to dream, to understand their dreams, or to believe in them? If we do not protect their sacred interior space where anything is possible, how will they begin to pull their dreams back into this shared space, and consider how to make their dreams a reality?