Whenever I catch hold of a thought, my head subconsciously tilts to the side as my eyes shift out of focus, a habit that has often led to teasing from my family and classmates. Yet this has never stopped me, for time and again I find myself—in moments of boredom, sadness, or joy—returning to those quiet labyrinthine corners of the mind. I believe in the power of my imagination.
My imagination has always found fertile ground in the arts, the resulting love affair providing endless savored moments of careening streams-of-consciousness.
In the fourth grade my mother took me to the Art Institute of Chicago for an afternoon of playing hooky. Cleared of the usual crowds, I darted freely from one Impressionist masterpiece to another, letting my eyes soak in the ache of Van Gogh’s yellows to Monet’s subdued aquamarines. That afternoon brought my mother and me closer together—we became accomplices and eternal allies, a friendship that survived the worst torrents of adolescence.
In perhaps a more important way however, my imagination has kept me rooted to my own childhood, even as the passing years threaten the inevitable advent of adulthood. Memories of that time mingle with my youthful fantasies: I dreamed with the Caesars and Romanovs, with Arthur and Odysseus and the twisted back alleys of Rowling and Dahl. I still go back to those heroes past, a reminder of what I dare not let go.
My imagination allows me to verify the depth of my surroundings: the charcoal lines of the trees set against yellow foliage for example, a clear sky or the short-lived smile of a passerby. Far from providing escapism from this world, my imagination allows me to create my own reality, whether found within a painted sunflower or the worn edges of a book. My mind begins to expand as my eyes gently close to the beat of my own pulse—rushing, rushing, then dreaming.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.