Daydreaming

The title of Hilde Ostby’s new book, The Key to Creativity: The Science Behind Ideas and How Daydreaming Can Change the World, would have caught my attention if I’d seen it in a bookstore. It was, however, an interview on CBC radio that introduced me to the book’s hook. The author suffers a concussion from a cycling accident and that becomes the catalyst for her journey down a rabbit hole of creativity. Living with a brain injury survivor for the last 38 years, I’m always curious about other survivors. Of course, every brain injury is different and every person is different, too.

This was an engaging read that I took my time with so I could indulge in the nuggets of wisdom spread throughout. I didn’t need to be converted by the idea of daydreaming being a good thing. I’ve deliberately tried to be less busy and to let myself idle without to-do lists and schedules. Free-falling down the rabbit hole can be scary but it’s that vulnerability that makes creativity so elusive and yet so enticing. She writes about the enduring power of story and the intimacy of reading as it spawns ideas in readers. 

Then she writes about gardens, quoting Oliver Sacks, who says, “As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process.” Amen, I say. She tells of Virginia Woolf’s overgrown garden along with other creative people who need nature to nurture their minds.  This, in opposition to the schools, with its constant system of judging: “a system that creates losers must have its dark side.”  (p.189)

My favourite lines come near the end of the book. Ostby writes, “writing a book—any book—is like making a time capsule and sending it into the future, hoping that someone will find it, hoping that it will overcome time itself.” (p. 255)

Like any good book, Ostby’s work has me wanting to check out more authors, like Anna Fiske, for example. I admire Ostby for using the challenges of her own concussion to explore the nature of ideas, of creativity, and of embracing daydreams. Highly recommended. 


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