Woolgathering: “Indulgence in idle daydreaming"
I take issue with this definition; daydreaming is neither indulgent nor idle. Many of us, myself included, spend about one third of our waking life meandering our mind’s byways. fMRI scans indicate that our brain is very active when we are supposedly idling. A complex default network hums when we do easy routine things such as making the coffee or standing in the shower. It also activates the so-called executive center, famous these days in the discussion of ADD. The take home message – if you are struggling to solve a complex problem take some time off from it and fantasize a little, or a lot.
I spent ten years woolgathering about how to make our house its own little power plant. Early on the typical response to the resulting schemes ranged from polite, incredulous smiles to one builder who told my husband that it was simply impossible. A New England home of our vintage would always suck wind. My response? More woolgathering.
Fast-forward to 2010. We needed a guest room and were tired of the decaying duct tape covering the cracks creeping across our kitchen floor. It was time to renovate. A friend referred us to Coldham & Hartman Architects in Amherst, MA. She said that they appreciate daydreamers. Andrew answered the phone at Coldham & Hartman. We had never met, but by the end of the call he felt like an old friend. Yes, we could retrofit our nineteenth century home; yes we could consider removing all the combustible fuel. No, I was not crazy. In fact, the firm adopted the 2030 Challenge, sponsored by Architecture 2030, an organization aiming to:
…achieve a dramatic reduction in the climate-change-causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the Building Sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed.
By 2030, all new and renovated houses should be carbon-neutral requiring no GHG emitting fossil fuels to operate. Reaching this goal requires education, financing, and time – a lot – for woolgathering.