Years of day dreaming have taken me to many places. It was an escape route from school with its impenetrable and interminable maths classes and pointless drill, from endless hours on the weekend – almost worse than the long school week – lying on my bed, the incessant drone of lawn mowers grinding into my skull, stupefied in the suffocating Johannesburg suburbs. I transported myself to any spot on the globe other than the point ascribed to me by fate that had me pinned to a school desk or a bed, waiting for my life to begin.
The places I visited were geographically vague, more feelings than places. It might have been Paris but a daydream form of it: a sense of melting freedom as I wandered through a kind of mist to little vignettes I now realise were garnered from a printed silk kerchief: frilly lamp posts, swishing skirts on pavements, poodles on leashes, cathedral spires in the sky, all in the language of arty brushstrokes.
It might have been Greenland, a country to which I was drawn because green was my favourite colour. The fact that Greenland took up so much space in my text book world atlas, hanging as it did on the very top rather like a pendulous breast, made it ideal for my form of day dreaming because it looked significant even though I knew nothing about it and no one else seemed to know anything either. ( While the capitals of Europe were a messy jumble, jostling for space with the names of the country, crammed in any which way, it was refreshingly blank, no rivers, no capital, nothing just its oddly attractive name.) I filled it with all the green things I knew, I turned the people into green tinged beings. I made the soil green and the mountains, perversely, purple. I slid down rivers of ice that glowed green, I interviewed animals with green shaggy coats…But don’t get the wrong idea. This was not happy moments of unbridled childish imagination. Underneath this voyaging was the tick, tock of the clock. The only requirement for each destination loop was that it be sufficiently enthralling to eat up time so that when I was came back the lawn mower would have ceased and I was an hour or two closer to adulthood.
We recently returned from a trip to Nepal which included an 8 day sortie into Tibet. And why the link with the day dream destinations of my childhood and adolescence? Because Tibet proved to be the most ‘day dreaming’ destination you can imagine. Yes, there were some familiarities: echoes of ‘Tintin in Tibet’ in the peculiar, not unattractive domestic architecture, ruddy cheeks on American-Indian style faces and the snowy peaks (no, not Snowy). It even awoke the memories of that strange book I read as an adolescent , ‘The Third Eye’ by the levitating monk, Lobsang Rampa. But on the whole, Tibet was on the edges of what I thought could exist. Now that I am a mature adult and most of my life has already happened, a real destination turns out to be almost more ‘unreal’ than any I dreamed up. I think pictures will demonstrate what I mean.
and many, many more…