Sometimes I wonder what a cloud would taste like, as a cat, clinging onto a crimson balloon, drifted next to it. Sometimes I wish I could reach out and seize a bit of the slippery cerulean sky. I would make into a necktie decorated dusted with badgers or an apron speckled with apple pies. Sometimes I think about what my pet elephant would be like, with his wrinkled gray coat. I would christen him Sir Gryphon von Bismarck. Sometimes I dream about falling into the sky, climbing on iridescent rainbows, or playing catch with luminous stars atop sand dunes.
I believe in the power of imagination to heal, protect, and create. It is a doctor, a guardian, and a maker. However, no one event can pinpoint my admiration for that ability which all children possess and some once-children have lost, for I am a soul caught somewhere between the two viewpoints, struggling in limbo. Instead, my appreciation for the imagination stems from an age-old tradition: seeking solace in literature. Lewis Carroll first took me by the hand and led me into a world where a baffle stood between faith and reality. I devoured Alice in Wonderland, thrilled by the literary confection that strained the limits of imagination with talking caterpillars, insolent plants, and temperamental flamingoes.
In elementary school, I was the object of ridicule, my small stature provoking uncreative insults and unsolicited name-calling. I turned to my only arms: my books and my imagination. Having read A Little Princess at the time, I recalled Sara Crewe’s imaginings of herself as a princess, despite the death of her father and subsequent poverty and misfortune. Following her example, I reinvented an image of myself after Sara – my chief tormenter was the vindictive Lavinia; a particularly acerbic teacher became Miss Minchin; my closest friends were the occasionally tiring but always loveable Ermengarde and Lottie. Each time someone tried to force me down, I smiled with the satisfaction of being able to slide in and out of a world where I was gracious royalty, secretly superior to my few, but spiteful peers. In this way, my imagination both protected and strengthened me and continues to do so today.
Samuel Coleridge once described an audience’s duty to the arts as “the willing suspension of disbelief for the moment that constitutes poetic faith.” The same philosophy may be applied to imagination, which does not serve as a reflection of truth, but rather its epiphany. I believe that imagining, be it in the form of planting candy canes or dreaming of conversational felines, is necessary to be whole and to appreciate the beauty in simple things. I believe in the necessity of the unbelievable.
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