Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Curse of Imagination

I spend a lot of time dwelling in my imagination.

It's where I go when a certain thing (word, phrase, scent, scene) catches my fancy. It's where I go before I fall asleep. It's where I go when I write. It's where I go when I sit down of an evening to roll dice with friends.

As a writer, and a role player, one strives to render the tactile mental. How do you describe the feel of the rain? The smell of dinner cooking? The washer banging on the spin cycle? How do you describe the tightening of your belly when you hear somebody scream outside, only to realize it's just a drunk college student, but now your scalp is tingling and your eyes see too much and you have to wait for the adrenaline to wear off before you can go back to bed?

When you get it right, when you're so immersed in your head-words that the reality before you fades at the edges and gets hazy with your imagining, it's magical. This immersion leaves you feeling dazed when it's time to be done, wake up, turn the computer off, put the dice back in the bag. It leaves you with imaginary scents, and colors. It leaves you looking at things that you don't recognize, but feel as though you ought.

The problem, though. Sometimes there are situations you hear about, in the news mostly, and reactions are of shock, visceral and wordless. You think "oh no" you think "I'm sorry" and so many people say "I just can't imagine...."

When you are a dreamer, you can imagine. It doesn't render the unspeakable any more understandable, it doesn't make you better. It certainly helps lend to the truth of your dreams, dimension to your song. It is an empathy that can't be taught, and indeed you might not even know you have it until you get that twist in your stomach one day when you hear of a tragedy that isn't yours, not really. Until you imagine somebody's last moments as though a dream, or vision, or well rendered film.

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