While on a recent flight from São Paulo, Brazil to Montevideo Uruguay, I found myself reflecting on how important sleep is to revitalizing your body. This was undoubtedly due to the very packed schedule I had been on that had caused my head to spin every night for two whole weeks, resulting in a profound sense of fatigue that was actually starting to feel somewhat toxic.
This was on a Friday evening, and I was particularly looking forward to the next day, which offered an opportunity for some long-delayed rest in Punta Del Este. As I contemplated that pleasant prospect while reclining in my seat on the Tam Airlines plane, a sense of immediate relaxation washed over me and I slowly nodded off into a dream state in which I was back playing with my first dog, a chihuahua named Coco. After that, my dreams became somewhat scattered and nonsensical, and I briefly awoke. I laughed over Coco’s antics, then drifted off again, this time jumping from the past into the future with a dream about what South America could look like with proper resource management. I began envisioning what it would take to ‘close the loop’ on all of the continent’s valuable materials to enable its inhabitants to use these vast resources to absorb all the carbon that’s now precipitating global warming and to raise the highest quality livestock on the planet. Such subconscious fantasizing about the kind of world that could be and that, in a strange way, I had just been a part of, began to seem as warm and fuzzy as my dream about Coco, and I felt more comforted, calm and content than I had been in weeks.
That’s when I realized that it isn’t simply sleep, but the ability to dream that restores us and recharges our batteries – and, in doing so, also drives the creative process, enabling us to conceive of all of the complex facets involved in bringing some lofty goal to fruition. The ability to imagine and invent is something that just about everyone has buried inside them to one degree or another. It’s just that too many of us haven’t left ourselves enough time or opportunity for productive dreaming – that is, to sufficiently detach from the constant distractions of daily life, be they the mundane requirements of getting through the day or the emails, text messages or latest pictures on Facebook that inundate our waking hours and invade our sleep, to let our subconscious be our guide.
These times of global crisis will require the serious dreamers to step up — to envision, to innovate, to spend time thinking about what it will take to create a better world for the human race to inhabit. I have to remind myself of this too. If it were not for being on a plane without Internet, without anywhere to go or much to do except listen to music, I would not have been forced to rest and dream. And I’m glad I was, because now I plan to become more of a dreamer, meaning to purposefully and deliberately make dreaming a part of my everyday routine. In fact, this morning I attempted to do just that. Even though I awoke, as I usually do, at 6 a.m, I thought, “What’s the hurry? Why not let me see if I can just ‘drift and dream’ a bit before getting up?” And two-and-a-half hours later (which seemed like only 10 minutes), I awoke somewhat shocked at the time and my immediate response was to say “OMG, now I’m late in getting started” — which made me forget all about whatever I had been dreaming. So it’s something that will definitely take some ‘work’ on my part before I can say I’ve mastered the art.
But dreaming is definitely something all of us need to make more of a conscious effort to do. Our society needs dreamers now more than ever, just as we all need the rest and restoration.