He dared to dream. Walt Disney wanted to build a place where people could ‘walk into’ his cartoons and meet Mickey Mouse.

ON my way to work one morning, I chanced upon an interesting sight.

Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I saw from afar an elderly lady dressed in full exercise gear, mostly in a faded pink colour, complete with a headband and jogging shoes, stretching and getting ready for what seemed to be her morning exercise routine.

Her stretching was pretty comprehensive.

She did everything — arm stretches, calf stretches, even hip twists. As soon as she was properly warmed up, she took a glorious first step... and started jogging around on her tiny balcony.

Ok, I should have mentioned this earlier. This lady wasn’t at a park. She wasn’t at a house with some land to run around on. She wasn’t even jogging around the neighbourhood.

She was in her low-cost flat at least 20 storeys up, and was running around on a balcony that could not have been more than six feet wide and 12 feet long.

I stared, open-mouthed. This woman, now making multiple tiny circles high up in the sky in the middle of hazy and noisy Kuala Lumpur, was running with a huge smile on her face — a vision of pure bliss and happiness.

She didn’t look like she was bothered by the fact that she was limited and fenced in by her physical circumstances. In fact, as she jogged around on her small balcony, her eyes seemed to twinkle.

It was as if, in her mind, she has transported herself elsewhere, away from the confinements of a low-cost flat and into some imaginary world only she knew where.

Maybe, she was imagining herself jogging at the KLCC park. Maybe, she was running with the tigers at Taman Negara. Maybe, she was happily sniffing lilac-washed rhododendrons as she merrily jogged in London’s Hyde Park, smiling at the odd passer-by.

This got to me.

As we become adults, and the realities of the harsh world swamp our daily lives, we become more practical people. We become realists. There is simply no time to be day-dreaming or imagining things that are not related to the tasks at hand, let alone dreaming of sniffing flowers in an English park.

And, that is simply a tragedy.

The world can be a wonderful place if we let our minds wander into the impossible.

Elon Musk wanted to build low-cost rockets to send things and people into space. Berry Gordy wanted to sell black soul music to white America in the 1950s. Walt Disney wanted to build a place where people could “walk into” his cartoons and meet Mickey Mouse. All these ideas were initially met with scepticism and naysayers going: “Are you crazy? Stop dreaming!”

But, that’s it. All these ideas happened because they dared to dream. They let their minds wander off from everyday reality and into an imagined place where nothing seems impossible.

Some would argue that Pokemon Go and other virtual and augmented reality applications that combine reality and the virtual world do help us add imagination to our lives.

Where once we saw a park, now, we see a park filled with animated Pokemon characters (I should know, as I have been catching these characters myself).

But again, we are leaving our imagination up to other people who dreamed up the Pokemon Go world for us. And, we needed to see this mash-up of Pokemon monsters in our reality for us to get our minds wandering.

As addictive as these games may be, they are nothing compared with the wondrous things we can dream up without the need of any aid to add vibrancy, colour and new imaginative ideas to our lives.

All we need to do is just remember what it was like when we were young, when nothing seemed impossible, and let our minds wander freely.

You never know, you might just get an idea that you had never dreamed up before because, well, you’ve forgotten to dream.

So, lose that tie, forget that business lunch, postpone that meeting, put away that phone, and go to a park or coffee place or poolside or beach, and dream away.

If you’re lucky, you might just join Aunty and smell those rhododendrons in Hyde Park, too.

Ahmad Izham Omar is the chief executive officer of Primeworks Studio, Media Prima Bhd. He works in the production of TV, film and music content, and gets panicky trying to figure out his next tweet. He can be reached via izham@mediaprima.com.my

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