Renoir – Woman in an Armchair . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau.
Our Shrinking World.
Have you been daydreaming a lot lately? Has being in lockdown meant that you tended to find concentration difficult, getting easily distracted and losing yourself in daydreams? This crisis may have left us feeling puzzled at many of our own feelings and behaviour.
People have at times felt that there has been nothing to look forward to; this might now be especially relevant to the elderly and those who are shielding.
Despite the fact that lockdown may be easing a little, these groups of people are still facing considerable restrictions to their everyday freedoms.
Vilhelm Hammershøi – The Balcony Room at Spurveskjul Gandalf’s Gallery, Flickr.
We have discovered during lockdown that we can only focus on and appreciate today; we are still uncertain what the future might hold for us, both personally and globally.
It has been hard to think about what we might be doing next week or next month, let alone next year. Diaries and calendars have, whether online or on paper, become full of blank spaces.
This is especially the case for those not working, almost as if they are not existing in the real world. The empty calendars reflect an altered state, the cancellations, the blank areas of social and work lives.
Lockdown has meant that, for most of us, our world has shrunk dramatically. No longer can we travel easily, go to theatres, pubs or restaurants.
Some amongst us are mostly limited to the confines of our home and, within its walls, somehow have to find the stimulation to keep going from day to day. Some have likened this to a kind of house arrest.
Vilhelm Hammershøi – Interior, Strandgade 30  Gandalf’s Gallery, Flickr.
Our Inner Landscape.
We have had to strive to discover some other meaning and purpose in our lives, as it has become difficult to find these externally during lockdown.
We may have sometimes needed to resort to our inner world, our internal landscapes of the mind.
What are these inner landscapes?
Within our minds, there is a vast and complex internal world of our creation, both conscious and unconscious, a mixed blend of many aspects, including memories, dreams, beliefs, imaginings, experiences, fears, thoughts and feelings.
“This inner world is truly infinite, in no way poorer than the outer one. Man lives in two worlds.”
Graphic illustrative examples of internal landscapes may be found in works of art:
Inner world: Vincent Van Gogh. Wheatfield With Crows. Wikimedia Commons.
Outer world: Photos of Auvers sur Oise wheatfield where Van Gogh painted his masterpiece. Image: Flickr.
“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
Van Gogh’s painting of the wheatfield reveals, in a rather stark and melancholy way, how he expressed his internal landscape through his interpretation of the external reality.
When he painted this, he was near the end of his life, mentally ill, in hospital.
“The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return.”
The landscape both reflects the outer reality of the wheatfield and, importantly, Van Gogh’s inner landscape.
Here is his internal world, externalised in paint on the canvas, a world with a deep sense of foreboding, several menacing large black crows, the threat of a storm in the sky and a path that leads to nowhere.
“Every artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher.
In contrast to this rather desolate inner landscape, Picasso painted some images around 1954 that he himself called his ‘inner landscapes.’
They reflected a much calmer and more resolved internal world, despite the fact that he was grieving the loss of his friend, Matisse.
Picasso, Les Pigeons, Cannes. Flickr.
Despite having been in lockdown, it is possible to discover that we can be free inside ourselves. Gaining inner freedom means that we are able to be creative with our thoughts, our attitudes to life, our ideas.
We are not trapped by the external, for we have choices, even within a limiting situation, to plan our more limited lives as we wish.
Daydreams can help. Maybe we can learn to enjoy them! Allowing ourselves to relax into them, sitting peacefully, observing our thoughts and dreams without judgement, can be a rewarding experience.
Developing a meditative attitude of curiosity and interest, calming one’s breathing, can be therapeutic.
There is a difference between mindfulness and daydreaming. Mindfulness is more controlled, and may be needed when the mind feels as if it might be running wild, perhaps ruminating unhealthily on dark thoughts.
Daydreaming allows our minds to roam our inner landscapes more freely. Whilst some of what we daydream about may feel dark, if we are able to manage this as well as the happier aspects, we will inevitably have a fuller, more rounded, creative and fulfilling experience.
“I try to maintain a healthy dose of daydreaming to remain sane.”
George Clausen – Day Dreams  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“I’m a free person; I feel terribly free. They could put me in chains and I still would be free because my thoughts would be mine – and that’s all I want to have.”
Try listening to the music in the calming and beautiful “Inner Landscapes” video below………See where it takes you as you travel inwards into your daydreams……let them happen!
“All the time, I looked out our lattice window. I watched the birds fly by. I followed the clouds on their travels. I studied the moon as it grew larger, then shrank. So much happened outside my window that I almost forgot what was happening inside that room.”
View From A Balcony. Albert Marquet. 1945. Wikimedia Commons.
This post on Daydreaming will be continued in Part 2 next Tuesday……………..Happy daydreaming in the meantime!