Chain of Thoughts

Driving with my daughter recently, gazing (or glancing) out at those billowy clouds that seem to have so much substance and a cottony texture, I remarked that when I was little, I wanted passionately to be able to sit on clouds (that was before CareBears but that show lets me know I wasn’t the only one). I had a later phase when I wanted desperately to be able to fly with the birds. A little bit older still, I imagined working on a ship crew, traveling the world.

These days it’s not hard to find depictions of people relaxing on clouds

My daughter commented that she didn’t remember having those longings.

I’ve described to her before that whatever I’m doing, I often feel an audience or group of people observing me, thinking I do that particular thing well (a pretty embarrassing admission). I was the youngest of five with a very busy mother and wonder sometimes if I lacked attunement from my carer. Anyway, my daughter responded that she’s never ever felt observed. Instead, she always saw herself directing or setting up scenes. She constantly created narratives for her stuffed animals and dolls, and little brother and friends. She wonders if seeing so much media as a kid impacted that. Not that we were a family glued to the screen—she had plenty of time outdoors and doing creative things, but in the era of vast entertainment possibilities, she saw much more than I did.

I grew up with a father who allowed very little TV watching, even of the limited programs available during my childhood. He was worried about what might happen to our minds if our thoughts were filled by other people’s productions (not entirely insane). My daughter pondered if having so many more narratives provided by media made her more prone to creating narratives for others and less likely to dream of flying, or sitting on a cloud, herself.

These seem like crucial questions as we contemplate what keeps the mind imagining, and what contributes to one’s relationship to self. I think the tone of our longings is important. It may dictate the tone of fulfillment.

2 thoughts on “Chain of Thoughts

  1. This post about the clouds coincides with some of my own pondering about creativity. I’ve become such a TV watcher since Covid began and I do wonder if it is a contributor to my writing so much less, not just in terms of the time spent, but that my mind is filled with vivid visual narratives of someone else’s creativity, instead of my own.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Cristina. I think it’s a valid concern. I’ve had a similar thought about my dreaming, if watching Silent Witness or some such captivating series before sleep changes the content of and reduces my connection to deep dreaming. It’s so easy to fall from a workday into some streaming series to keep work thoughts from circulating. I go for walks, commune with nature, but also binge-watch. I don’t feel like it’s affected my imagination this year for writing (fantasy and fantasy sci fi fiction), and I did some binge-watching before Covid, so that might bring us back to our early years. What fed the stories in yours?

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