Something has started happening in my life that I never expected; indeed, I never even anticipated. As I grow old, I keep running into myself!
As a boy, I had a lot of curiosity. One way I expressed this was to look at things very, very closely. Naturally, at some point in time I got a microscope for Christmas. Then along came a chemistry set, and then later a telescope. I learned a lot about the physical world from these tools. In those days, these items were actually more tool than toy.
Also as a boy, I had a great imagination. I would get on the floor, either in the living room or in the basement, and set up my spaceship sets or blocks or whatever and play for hours. I had no difficulty transporting myself into my play. I think my ability to imagine facilitated this mental leap.
I also read a lot. I enjoyed comic books first but moved into paperback books when I was a little older. The town library was within walking distance so I got exposure to hardbacks as well. And the price was always right at the library, especially in the late summer when I was bored and the air conditioning felt great. I really liked science fiction and could easily get lost in books by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, A. E. Van Vogt, Jack Williamson, Fredrick Brown, and Isaac Asimov. The only real problem I had while getting lost in books was my imagination – I’d start reading a book and the next thing I knew I was awaking from a daydream! Uh … what was this story about again? I’d have to go back and re-read the last ten pages to find out.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve been curious, somewhat imaginative, and have read fiction off and on. However, I largely turned my back on these qualities when I came of age. I went out to meet the world on its terms and learn whatever I could. I was, after all, an adult. Uncle Sam gave me the opportunity to travel to foreign lands. A solid education gave me a professional career and the resources to raise a family in a nice town with good schools. I’m eternally grateful for such good fortune and fond memories.
Now, however, I interact with the world pretty much on my own terms. I spend more time doing the things I like to do, not unlike when I was a kid: I read, learn, research, study, think, work with my hands, and imagine. Fortunately, I don’t have the problem with daydreaming that I used to have when reading fiction. I realize now that daydreaming as a young boy was all about me – I was the hero, the protagonist – in whatever adventure I was daydreaming about. I suspect this is true of the daydreams of most young boys, and perhaps girls as well.
I find that I almost never daydream anymore. I’m not sure if it is because I no longer have the need, or I no longer have the faculty, or both. What I do apparently need is some real adventure in my life. That’s why I own a cruising sailboat and spend my winters sailing in Florida. Each year I push myself a bit further, doing something I’d never done, nor would have ever done, before.