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Whittling Away: Daydreaming


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I have been schizophrenic for as long as I can remember. I think everybody is to a certain extent. 

I’m not talking about being mentally ill to the extent that it affects your quality of life, I’m referring to the coping skill of daydreaming that enables us to survive the doldrums of daily life, a small mental vacation from reality to be enjoyed and savored. 

Walter Mitty stands out as a shining example. A harping wife and a mundane life didn’t stop him from mental heroics and adventures. He boldly went where one of his advanced wimp-dom would never have gone in reality. 

Is there a man out there regardless of his athletic ability who hasn’t hit the winning home run or scored the winning touchdown? Is there a woman who hasn’t been a princess or a ballerina? I think not and our lives are better for it.

I was watching “America’s Got Talent” last night and my alter ego kicked into gear. I have more talent than some of those who auditioned. Telly, my trusty canine companion, loves my version of “The House of The Rising Sun” when I sing lustily along with it on our favorite oldies radio station.

I could dance — I’m not really up on hip hop but the moves don’t seem beyond my abilities. I can still do a mean “Chicken Dance” and I was Franklin County’s “Twist” champion back in 1962. 

Magic might be the ticket — I remember a card trick or two that used to wow my students. I’m good at whittling and people love to watch while I do it, I’m just not sure how far I could get during the 90 seconds allowed for the performance without a massive loss of blood.

The time limit is tough. I’m a good writer and people seem to enjoy my stories, but 90 seconds doesn’t give me much time to build a plot or do much in the way of character development. 

I know that deep down inside I have the talent necessary to win but the time and effort to develop and display that talent just doesn’t seem worth the effort. A million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to and I’m not sure that I’d like Las Vegas that much. Maybe just knowing that I could win if I wanted to is enough.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up daydreams. That young guy in the shiny new Corvette will never know how that old guy in the Kia hatchback suddenly did a wheelie with all four tires smoking and beat him soundly to the next light. The checkout lady at the market didn’t realize that I’d just climbed a banana plant on a tropical island to harvest the biggest and best fruit that I now placed on her endlessly moving black belt.

The Queen of our house, looking out the back window last summer as I mowed the lawn on my little tractor, had no idea that she was actually watching a giant harvester mowing down endless waves of wheat. 

Telly understands though and I love him for it. I know that no matter what I do, he thinks of it as an adventure and I’m always a hero in his eyes. Dogs just know things like this.

Thought for the week — “You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.” ~ Garth Brooks

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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