Where wild minds come to rest
That's what we call it in my family. I've done it ever since I can remember. (I theorize that my string playing started with the corners of the "blankie" I had as a kid, but who knows?) I lie down, usually on my bed, with a plain, white t-shirt on my chest to provide a neutral background. I take a length of string, usually shoestring, and twirl it with my hands. Frankly, I don't really know what actions I perform with the string in my hands, because by the time I'm doing it my mind is elsewhere. I can do it with background noise or with the tv on, but I prefer peace. Music helps immensely.
For mysterious reasons, this brings forth vivid images and moving pictures in my head. Almost hallucinations, except I know they're not real. They are like dreams, but more believable and much more under my control. They come forth unbidden by conscious thought. I am capable of controlling these visions consciously, but they're more intense when they happen on their own.
This is a form of daydreaming, obviously, though it differs from the other dreams and reveries I experience in waking life. My mind wanders as I perform mundane tasks like driving a car or mowing the lawn, but only in brief snatches are they ever 1/100th as intense as what I experience while playing with strings. Sometimes I wish they were, though listening to other people's stories perhaps I should be grateful that my more vivid daydreams are restricted to when I have privacy in my bed. The only other conditions which come close are occasionally when I listen to music or read a book.
When playing with strings--sometimes under other conditions, but especially when playing with strings--I make movies in my head, for lack of a better way of putting it. I craft stories and invent characters and scenarios. I'd say I have 20 or so long-running storylines, with countless shorter and less developed ones. I often use real people, including people I know. Usually I'm not personally featured, though I do have a couple of alternative lives I live in my head. Those stories I don't experience in first person; I'm always seeing myself from the outside.
Used to be more or less monkey see, monkey do: I'd see a movie or tv show, read a book, or experience something in real life, then I'd have the urge to act it out in my head. That's when I was a kid. I still take inspiration from the world, of course, but I'm more creative now, less reactive. When I was a kid, acting things out heavily involved making audible sound effects and whispering dialogue, which my family noticed and made fun of. I don't think they ever conceived fully of what I was up to. For them it was a matter of me using the ends of the strings like action figures, or something along those lines. I have never told them what playing with strings is really like.
When in adolescence I put away childish things, or pretended to, which meant living a secret daydreaming life. That was hard, especially since I shared a room with my brother. I had to spend time in the bathroom, among other places. Sometimes I was caught, and this was attributed to a special failing on my part, as well as rank disobedience. I was supposed to have grown out of it. The fact that I hadn't led my mother to suspect string playing had some sort of sexual motivation, though it didn't. I have sexual daydreams; prodgious sexual daydreams, in fact, I assume in the manner of every boy past puberty. But my string playing daydreams are not sexual, usually. They are something else.
After my brother moved away, I had hours and hours of free time to devote to strings. I still do it several hours a day. I don't know what I'd do if I moved in with a significant other and was expected to share a room. That's never come up in my life, thankfully and unfortunately. Probably more unfortunately.
I don't want to pathologize this ability, because I don't know if there is an actual malady called "maladaptive daydreaming," much less what the difference would be between someone who was diagnosed with such a disorder and someone who simply possessed the ability and know-how to vividly daydream. I play with strings an inordinate amount of time, and I have few friends and no romantic life. I'm also halfway suicidal, but I can't pin that on the daydreaming. Neither could a doctor, I don't think.
My main interest in this site is to learn how many people out there are like me, how many different ways there are to do what I do, and how my experience in daydreaming compares to others. Daydreaming itself is not a unique ability, and I've long known there are more and less vivid or intense versions of it. That's one of the reasons it took me so long to find out about others like me. I googled "daydreaming" many times, many different ways, before I stumbled upon the maladaptive label and things finally clicked. Prior to that, I kept getting routed into articles about autism, which is definitely not me, or lucid dreaming, which is similar but not the sane thing.
I knew I'd find something eventually, because I knew I wasn't the only person in the world to do this. Hence all the depictions of characters lost in their own imaginations depicted in fiction, and all the descriptions of unique mental abilities I've read about in biographies, for instance. Many of them are shown projecting their own visions into the real world, which is sorta like what I do, though not exactly. So I always knew there were people like me. I just wondered how many people are specifically like me, as in string playing, or something comparable.