Monday, August 26, 2013

In Defense of Daydreaming...

          I am fully aware of my daydreaming "problem". I have very early memories of being beckoned back to earth..."Anika...ANIKA! Did you hear what I said?!" and if the disruption was brought by a family member, it was often followed by "you are JUST like your grandfather!"
          First of all, I'll take that as a compliment. And just like my grandfather, I've spent my life defending my wanderings, battling judgement, and - for what it's worth - frustrating the hell out of myself. In one of several columns my grandpa wrote on the subject, he laments:
         "Teachers never gave up, though. They all seemed to regard daydreaming as an affliction just short of Parkinson's Disease or opium addiction, and they would devote almost every counseling session to a long, involved explanation of how daydreaming was delaying the cultivation of the firm mental discipline I would need in order to succeed in the world. They had the same success rate as my mother."
          So, naturally I share a kindred delight in finding a kind word regarding daydreaming!

          "The last time I can remember reading a kind word about daydreaming was two years ago, when somebody wrote: 'Daydreaming is the Walden Pond of the mind - a quiet retreat where old ideas and images can be comfortably perused an new ones created.' I even remember who wrote that. Me."

          Boy, do I wish my grandfather were around so I could share with him the extraordinary revelations of one Jonah Lehrer who, in his somewhat recent book Imagine: How Creativity Works and in several interviews and articles, not only defends daydreamers, he uses scientific proof to make us look like geniuses! In fact, after listening to one of his lectures, for the first time in my life I felt downright proud to be so distractible!
Here's a picture of my neighbor's kitty in my yard:

          Did you know that people who tend to be more distractible (who are known as having low laden inhibitions - in fancy science jargon) who also have moderately high IQ scores are SEVEN TIMES more likely to be Eminent Creative Achievers. I have NO idea what that is, but it sounds really great and I'm that. Also, people who daydream score significantly higher in tests of creativity - which is saying alot considering that apparently most people lose a great deal of creative sensibility somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade. Apparently, this is the age when kids start comparing their own creativity to the creativity of others, thus developing creative self-consciousness, thereby inhibiting creative thinking as a defense mechanism. I was always too busy daydreaming to notice how Richie and Leslie were drawing their houses....thank goodness.
          Anywho, this leads me to my point. Another topic of emphasis in Lehrer's reporting is the mental and creative requirement for "breaks". In an article for the New Yorker, he writes:
          "If you're trying to solve a complex problem, then you need to give yourself a real break, to let the mind incubate the problem all by itself. We shouldn't be so afraid to actually take some time off."
          The past couple of weeks I had been so intently focused on how to build the story, the world, the characters, that I practically came to a grinding halt. I was also intently focused on getting into the Advanced Character Design Class at the Animation Collaborative - getting the right stuff up on the blog and my site for the portfolio review, then wondering what would happen while I worked my tail off to earn the money to pay for the damn thing - exhausting!
           So, last Monday morning, I woke up and thought to myself  "today should be a day of inspiration". Instantly I began to talk myself out of, I must focus. I must draw. I must focus and draw and focus. Then, the wonderful words of Mr. Lehrer came to mind and I realized that a day of inspiration was just the focus I needed!
            So I brushed my teeth and headed on up to San Francisco in the hopes of somehow, someway imbibing a whiff of genius from the extraordinary Tyrus Wong, whose work is currently on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum (my go-to inspiration headquarters anyway - bonus!). I won't give you a play-by-play (although a late lunch DID consist of cold oysters on the half shell and duck liver), but let's just say the whole day was a VERY good idea. I'm still happy I thought of it...with a little help.
Here are a few photos and sketches from my Day of Inspiration:

It's not every day you get to sit on
Walt's favorite bench & sketch...
I miss living in the Presidio - I love the houses. These
sketches were done super duper quick to avoid imposing
my voyeuristic creepiness on the homes' inhabitants...

Of all the hundreds of photos I took of Wong's work...this
little guy is the only one that turned out without my
squinty-eyed, gapey-mouthed reflection in it.

Mary Blair, how I love thee...

Go get ya some inspiration!!

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