Do you sometimes dream of things more fantastic than what you see in everyday life? I think we all do this, however cautiously or fleetingly, and I suppose daydreaming can be characterized by doodling—those little drawings penciled or penned along the margins of tests or other evaluations of a person’s ability to understand “how life is.”
If such tests reflect simple, innate human fear of the unknown and the rather pitiable idea of a status quo, doodling would seem to reflect the wonderful, equally innate human disposition to dream, to expand, to look toward the fences of “how life is” and say, “You know. I believe there’s something beyond that.”
Without such daydreaming doodlers, we’d likely not have the light bulb, the radio or cars. We’d likely still be sitting around fires, disconnected from one another while living our lives in and around the villages we were born in, and little would change because that would be “how life is.” (And we’d have tests to make sure we didn’t think differently.) There’d only ever be unrealized potential, ghosting around us like ephemeral mist, and potential may be the greatest quality of every single thing on Earth.
In each breath, movement, thought, word and doodle, the vast and endless realm of human potential shows itself, as it has with every generation—evidenced by what to me is one of the greatest treasures I ever could have hoped to find.
While sorting through some old, inherited papers from my late uncle Doug’s estate, I came across some of his school exams from 1938 (one year before the Second World War began). It seemed a miracle that the fragile papers had survived inside a mouldy wooden box for 77 years, but more miraculous was the pure contrast of what I found.
While the exams themselves (and Doug’s answers to them) reflected the fences of “how life is,” Doug’s doodles outside those fences (or, beyond the margins) were reflections of him staring at that fence and saying, “No, I believe there’s more out there.” Even if the doodles were the result of boredom, it amounted to the same—a desire for something more, shot into the universe like a thought-rocket. And perhaps he never saw the return of such rockets in concrete form in his life. Perhaps he just later head off to war (inset picture), saw the abysmal horror of “how life is” and just wound down his days living in contrast to what he definitely didn’t want in his life—or anyone’s life. Yet by the launching of thoughts toward a different world as doodler and daydreamer, Doug and thousands like him arguably set the matrix of the universe in motion toward “how life is” now, where we do have fanciful geometric pavilions and tramways running through them, where the world has never again been at war, and where fences have come down.
Sure, there’s still intolerance, bullying, ignorance, hatred, fear and more that can’t possibly be called a fundamental human desire. Yet as the word evolution denotes an ongoing state, we’d perhaps all do well—even for a day—to just set that all aside and give thanks this Family Day to past and present families and friends, who doodled and dreamed beyond the margins, who didn’t buy into “how life is” as a fixed and unchanging reality, who cast their thoughts into a responsive universe and effectively made us colonists upon birth to the better world they’d imagined.