Flexing the Imagination Muscle
Recently on the CBS Morning Show, the prolific author Dean Koontz gave a rare interview. He made a comment that one’s imagination is like a muscle, and that it was important to exercise it regularly. I believe one of the primary means to exercise our imagination muscle is through reading. When we read, we create a different reality with the help of the author. We become engaged in the author’s world. The author gives us hints and descriptions to the world that he/she is bringing us, but it is our imagination that fully brings it to life. We control the colors, the sounds, the images, the location, etc. Often we may project ourselves as one of the characters (I personally like to see myself as a James Bond type!) Reading is like having a movie projector in one’s head and you are watching the story come to life in your mind’s theater. I suppose that’s why I enjoy reading fiction so much. During the time I am reading, I can totally escape!
Additionally, for me, going to a movie is the ultimate escape and an environment that allows my imagination to revel in the images on the screen. The senses of sight and hearing are fully engaged (and now with 3-D—even more so.) We are like voyeurs looking into another world. We become involved with the characters. Some are like family almost--we laugh with them, we cry with them, we get scared with them. There are times when I leave a movie feeling drained and my eyes are all puffy. I’ve always felt it was important to check your ties to reality at the door when entering a movie theater and roll out your imagination muscle. I go to a movie to be entertained, not to be a critic. Movies, like reading, allow one to escape. One’s imagination gets exercised.
Eight years of Republican governance of our country under the Bush/Cheney administration unequivocally led to the Great Recession of 2008 (people seem to forget that)!! Because they failed to monitor Wall Street and the banks, I lost more than a third of my retirement. Visions of traveling to other countries, or around our own great nation, and doing other fun activities during my retirement have essentially gone down the drain. I am basically in survival mode. I have entered the ranks of the senior on a fixed income (actually, more like broken) and it’ll get us by.
I may have lost much of what I can do in my retirement, but I can still travel and experience new exciting things. And it doesn’t cost me anything! How? With my imagination! I’m still glad I can afford to buy a book (especially ebooks) or go to an occasional movie. And that’s why I like to write as well. With my imagination muscle in high gear, I get to create the world, bring characters to life, manipulate them, do daring things with them, etc. It’s almost like playing God…or Frankenstein.
Ever since I was a kid, I have always had a book going. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a book on my nightstand. At times, there were two going at once. When traveling in the car, if I wasn’t looking out the window making up stories and imagining things taking place, I’d be reading. My publisher recently commented about authors who don’t read. What?? I simply cannot fathom that notion. It would be like a composer who doesn’t listen to music, or a painter who doesn’t go to an art exhibition, or…well, you get the idea.
So, I might not be traveling to Paris, or visiting Japan in this world. I can still get there maybe in the next book I read or movie I see. Then again, the next novel I write might take place on another planet. Hmm…I’ve always wanted to visit Tatooine.