A movie on a flight from New Zealand last week reminded me of something I am simply not doing enough of in my life. I need it. I want it. It is all around me.
When I do it, it energies me. What about you? Do you need more of this too?
It was a second rate movie in many ways. “Night Train To Lisbon.” Based on an excellent book by Pascal Mercier, it tells of an aging, divorced and bored Swiss Classics teacher who saves a young woman about to suicide off a bridge. She is grateful, then runs away, leaving her jacket with him. In the pocket, a memoir of a Portuguese doctor from the 1970s, and a ticket for the night train to Lisbon, departing in 15 minutes. He rushes to the train station in a vain attempt to find the girl. Instead, as the train departs for Lisbon, he impulsively climbs on board.
And that is what I am not getting enough of in my life. It is there for all of us. In the words of author Mercier (coincidentally, taken from later in the movie):
“Imagination is our last sanctuary.”
It’s the fantasy of doing something so radical- walking out of my reality into something so different and unknown…. that’s what captures me, seduces me. I love my reality- and would not trade (most of) it for anything. But I still fall instantly for what comedian and thinker Andrew Denton told our STW leaders meeting in February is one of the most powerful fuels of creativity and inspiration- DAYDREAMING.
Some of the very best ideas in my time as part of the STW leadership team have come from when we have allowed ourselves to daydream – while jogging together, having a sundowner at the end of a hectic day by a river as dusk descends on an Asian city, or walking on a beach at one of our “Fresh Air” sessions, where we force ourselves to get out of town to spend a day and a night just talking. We used to feel guilty doing it. Now we feel guilty if we don’t.
It’s an idea stolen from Tony Blair. In his autobiography, he tells how he and Gordon Brown would every few months fly to New York, book into a hotel, and walk the streets of Manhattan, totally anonymously, for two days, just talking- about issues, ideas, and possibilities. Daydreaming.
‘Last Train To Lisbon’ really stuck a chord with me. As did a movie called ‘The Russia House’ 20 years ago. In both, a middle aged man- with no ties or bonds- took a risk and embarked on adventure. And, in both, it added texture and vitality to purposeless lives.
I don’t know what it is. But spending solid time, regularly, just daydreaming about stuff- about what could be, or how it might have been, or how it evolves, about what’s next – it’s refreshing and invigorating. Can be sad too. But that’s also okay- and healthy.
Leonard Cohen has a song that helps ignite my daydreaming: “Secret Life”. It instantly takes you to daydreaming. Have a listen on YouTube. Most of the words, as is Leonard’s want, are a bit too suggestive for bland old Possums. But the intent is summed up in this verse:
“I’ll be moving through the morning,
Moving through the night.
Moving across the borders,
Of My Secret Life.”
Spend more time daydreaming. Nurture the secret life within your imagination. Do it for your business. Do it for yourself. No-one will know what goes on there. Unless you want them to.