If you have spent a morning with me, you know that the first words I usually say have to do with what I dreamt about the previous night. I don’t think I dream more than anyone else, but I have the blessing and curse of remembering a lot of detail about what I dream. If given the forum, and a little bit more practice, I could probably spend at least an hour each morning recanting the adventures I’d been on in dreamland.
And so what is curious is that I don’t really daydream. Not in the classic sense of playing through images in my mind. Instead, I daydream with words. I don’t think of sentences or monologues, not real ones anyway. I build strings of words that sound sonorous together. I toy with them until I come up with just the right phrase. It could take me anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes to decide on sequence I like. I’ve never been sure if they sound as sweet to anyone else, because, unlike my actual dreams, I’ve never shared the results of the little word game I play. Until today.
With the exponential amount of information aggregated on what we know as the internet, it has always been the perfect library in which to search for some of the combinations I’ve thought up. Today on the drive home from work, it was sleeting. The sky was dusty and the roads were black and wet. The sequence came to me rather quickly, but today it was: sparrow mansion.
I don’t know what I like about it, but it’s right. It feels right to me. When I first started coming up with these phrases, they served no other real purpose than as a mind-game, and a way to fill time. I often start with tangible items in my environment and work from there. I have found, however, that the sequences (not the game itself) end up serving to calm me.
Each day, I provide speech and language therapy to students with varied severities of autism. One of the common characteristics among these students is their ‘scripting’ otherwise referred to as echolalia–the repetition things they’ve heard in other places. Sometimes it’s lines from favorite movies, or from commercials on the radio or TV. Many have the uncanny ability to remember these lines and recite them verbatim and at length. Many find joy and/or comfort in reciting these scripts. Whether or not they know it, they use it as a way to regulate their sensory systems.
The satisfying product of my game is these phrases are my own version of scripting. Usually it’s in my thoughts, but I always have to try saying them aloud a few times just to make sure they sound as good spoken as they do in my head. I found myself feeling stressed a few days ago, and instead of using other common coping strategies (breathing, visual imagery, taking a break) I just repeated one of my sequences a few times and I felt better. Maybe I just forgot about being stressed, and hopefully it’s not an obsessive compulsion in it’s infancy, but I’ll certainly try it again the next time I’m frazzled.
When I got home from work, I sat down at my desk and typed sparrow mansion into Google. So it happens that I was not the first to come up with this phrase. There is an abandoned house in the UK that goes by the moniker Sparrow Mansion. It’s not without saying that I don’t think it sounds nearly as nice with a ‘the’ in front of it. I’m not bummed that I wasn’t the first. Perhaps it’s evidence that the words really do sound agreeable together.
A few days ago I thought of: mister sonnet. Tomorrow it will be something else.
And the day after that, I’ll be that many days closer to hearing the ice went out on Mille Lacs.