I’ve always been a dreamer. When you are 7 years younger than your nearest sibling you learn to cultivate your imagination at a young age. You also learn to sit quietly and absorb the world around you. When you are the youngest of four it’s easy to be a fly on the wall in the world of adults. So I soaked up as much of the adult world as I could, keeping my mouth shut and using my brain to figure things out. Sometimes it led me astray, like my foray in Black Velvet, but mostly it prepared me well for the vocabulary SAT. As I’ve said before, my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Maier commented that I had the vocabulary of a college student. Unfortunately, I still do.
When the kids in the neighborhood weren’t around it was no problem for me to find ways to entertain myself. I could build cities and roads in the gravel driveway for my matchbox cars, or fight prolonged battles through the jungles of the garden with my green plastic army men. I won so many football games, and scored so many winning touchdowns in the imaginary stadium in our backyard that I was elected to the imaginary football hall of fame by age eleven. Youngest inductee ever.
As I grew my imagination stayed the same, only my fantasies changed. Long bike rides in the countryside became epic flights on horseback pursued by Nazgul and Ringwraiths. Long rainy afternoons in school became heartbreaking stories of children held captive in concentration camps waiting for their chance to rise up against their oppressors. I slew more nuns than Robespierre. In my teens I suffered debilitating diseases, and died so many tragic deaths, that I broke the hearts of several thousand unrequited crushes. If only the poor girls had noticed me sooner.
So it should come as no surprise that when adulthood arrived I lived as many secret lives as Walter Mitty. Working on the road, and spending long hours alone driving cross country I daydreamed the miles away. I have lived a thousand lives in a thousand farmhouses, and small towns across America. Worked their fields, and walked their woods. Swam in the creeks, and sat on the porches on hundreds of summer evenings watching the sun descend into the golden fields like a ball of flame. I have spent quiet winter evenings by the warmth of fireplaces writing great works of fiction, and poetry so profound that it brought Hemingway to tears.
You may think these daydreams are escapist fantasies, and a retreat from reality, but I would propose that they are the very things that fuel my imagination and creativity. They are the flights of fancy that allow me to see life through Technicolor goggles. Only the reflection of reality in the mirrors of my daydreams allow me to see the world with clarity, and perspective.
Without make believe the real world loses all its flavoring. Is it really any wonder that I came back to blogging?