Not too many people know – or care, for that matter – that the month of January gets its name from the Roman God Janus. Since Janus was the god of endings and beginnings, he had two faces, one looking back into the past and one looking forward into the future. I’m not enough of a student of Roman mythology to know how Janus used his exceptional vision, but I do know that millions of modern men and women use the beginning of the new year as an excuse to make resolutions, based on a decidedly imperfect view of both the past and the future.
Don’t do it! Resolutions are evil things whose sole purpose is to generate guilt among those who fail to keep them and anxiety among those who do. For example, back when I was a four-pack-a-day smoker, I didn’t have to worry about my health, because I knew that even if I was eaten by a lion not named Cecil, smoking would still be my official cause of death. Then for reasons I’m still not sure of, 17 years ago I successfully resolved to quit.
But was my life now perfect? No way. I soon learned that now there were thousands of demons lying in wait to cause my demise. I admit that I was terrified. Then I figured out that, when faced with innumerable potential threats, there’s no point in worrying about–or making resolutions regarding–any of them.
And most important of all, making a resolution isn’t much fun no matter how it plays out. My theory is that the first few days of the new year ought to be fun. After all, there’s a good chance most of the rest of the year won’t be. That’s why I spend the dawning of each new year daydreaming about fun things I’ve done in the past or would like to do in the future.
Some of my daydreams are at least semi-practical. For example, I’d like to return to my native Kansas for some late season pheasant hunting. If anything’s going to come of that dream, I’m going to have to get off my duff. The season closes at the end of January and putting an out of state hunt together takes time.
My two Wyoming antelope hunts left me with plenty of material for daydreams. A witch’s brew of other commitments, sound reasons and lazy excuses has so far kept hunt number three on the back burner, but it will happen. Meanwhile my Wyoming daydreams are so vivid I can smell the sage brush.
After 16 consecutive years, Amber’s and my week in Ontario slipped from reality to daydream status several years ago. Nevertheless, that single week still generates more hours of daydreaming than all of my other outdoor activities combined.
For one heart-pounding week back in 1988, I maneuvered myself within a cat’s whisker of a South African blackpowder plains game safari. Pragmatism tells me that chance will never come again, but in my daydreams, hope’s lamp still burns bright.
Lest anyone misunderstand, good daydreaming subjects don’t have to involve travel beyond state or international borders. Local deer hunting fanatics like myself prefer to use fancy terms like “visualization,” because the hours of mental practice time we put in imagining ourselves facing various hunting scenarios truly are an important part of preparing for a successful hunt. Or we could be completely honest and admit we’ve been daydreaming.
Outdoor daydreams aren’t bound by time. I’m as likely to be daydreaming about an experience I had 60 years ago as I am about one that happened last week. The one thing they have in common is that, unlike night dreams they’re always pleasurable.
But perhaps I should place a caveat on that. My daydreaming is always pleasurable to me but not necessarily to certain other people, namely Amber. She claims I get a 1,000-yard
stare when I start to daydream at the dinner table. Based on that flimsy evidence, she thinks I’m “off somewhere” instead of paying attention to her.
She might have a point. On the other hand, if I had actually been off somewhere fishing or hunting instead of daydreaming about it, I wouldn’t have been sitting at the table at all. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get.
Gerald Scott can be reached at [email protected]