As I went out to my car this morning I couldn’t help thinking about the recent movie The Mistbased on a Stephen King story.  A heavy fog has seemed to cover the entire Greenville area so far today and Mad even sent me an email early this morning expressing the same thought.  I told her that I keep expecting to see some weird alien insect land on the windows of the library.  Now of course there isn’t anything really all that imaginative about comparing the heavy fog this morning to a recent movie I’d seen but I do tend to play the imagination game quite a lot. 

Sometimes if I go about the beginning of the day without seeing anybody else or noticing the noise of human activity I can actively imagine that perhaps something happened and I am all alone in the world.  I used to do this a lot when I was growing up in Vermont. As I lived in a much more rural area than Greenville I could often go outside to walk to the general store and not see anybody the whole way there and the whole way back.  What made it even weirder was that I lived in a neighborhood so it wasn’t like I was coming from a single house with no nearby neighbors.  I haven’t seen the movie I Am Legend yet but I have imagined a world of human structure missing the beings that created it.

I remember on one of these occasions being followed by a large St. Bernard dog.  Now normally this wouldn’t bother me too much, I recognized the dog (it wasn’t a stray it just liked to wander around our neighborhood.  In actuality it was a really nice dog) but having not that long before watched another movie based on a Stephen King novel, Kujo, I found myself freaked out (also as a little kid I had once been chased down by an overly excited dog while making the same walk from my house the same day I had learned about rabies at school, this had left a bit of a mental scar as far as dealing with loose dogs when I went walking anywhere).   So being followed by this St. Bernard (who more than likely just wanted me to throw a stick for him or scratch his ears) got the ol’ imagination box a ticking and all I could think about was how desperately I wanted to get to an indoor location.  Obviously nothing happened and I made it safely to my destination discovering that humanity had not been mysteriously wiped out, but at the time I had a pretty interesting and somewhat suspenseful narrative going on in my head.

I’ve always had a vivid imagination and there isn’t anything in the world that would make me want to give it up seeing as I consider it a big defining feature of who I am.  But imagination can be a kind of two edged sword I think.  On one hand it can allow us to be very creative and innovative, finding new ways to solve problems and entertain ourselves.  On the other hand we have to make sure to control it, for an imagination allowed to run rampant can lead one to almost certain paranoia  and unnecessary stress.  It is okay to look out into the thick fog in the morning and make up something that is out there beyond our vision, but it is important after that to ground oneself in reality and know that when the sun melts the mist away things will likely be the same as they always are.

~ by Nathaniel on January 8, 2008.

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