These Ancient Eyes: Memory & Imagination [REPOST]

Friday, May 11, 2012

(This and the next 2 blogs are reposts due to a site glitch. Dates and times relayed within them are now wrong.)

Lona and I had a wonderful time, weekend before last, hanging out with my parents for their 50th anniversary. The plane rides were wonderful and quite comfortable for being planes, and the time spent with mom and dad was absolutely lovely. One of the days we were there, we spent time looking through a lot of my old things, helping my parents decide what they could let go to a women & children’s shelter, and what I wanted them to keep and eventually ship to me.

However, holding my childhood toys again – some that I hadn’t seen since I was much younger – remembering the stories attached to them and the things I’d put my parents through in order to get some of them, brought a lot of my childhood into the soothing light of nostalgia for me. I found myself remembering things I thought were long forgotten – like the time I turned my entire room into Jurassic Park, building little enclosures for all the different dinosaurs in various areas, complete with farm truck that carted food and livestock from paddock to paddock. The interesting thing I’m finding as I look back on it, though, is that I remember things like that two different ways. I remember the way it was, physically, and I remember the way it looked in my mind’s eye.

The imagination of a child is a truly wonderful and unique thing. As I guided my parents through my room like a tour guide, I was simultaniously wearing a Jurassic Park uniform and driving them through the park’s winding roads. My parents were wealthy guests come to the island for a weekend – in my personal world, all the stuff that went down in the movie didn’t happen, and the animals were as safe as any zoo animal would be. I could smell the exotic plants and animal scents of the ancient world, brought back through modern science for the Park. I was the penultimate tour guide, knowledgeable and skilled at pointing out that which my tourists would need to know.

I don’t remember their reactions, really (they probably do! Feel free to share, mommy!), but I remember being supremely confident in everything I showed them. It was absolutely fascinating – to me.

So many things I remember with this strange duality of memory and imagination. I remember my parakeet riding on my shoulder or the handle of my exercise bike, as I rode it before settling in to my homeschooling every day. However, I also remember the imaginary scenerio: my family and I had moved to Australia, and I had to bike three miles to school and back every day. Wild parakeets liked me and would sometimes land on me while I was in transit. I can see the wilds of the outback around me, smell the dust of the road, feel the bumps of the rutted dirt road I followed from our house in the middle of nowhere to the small one-room schoolhouse where I and five other kids got our lessons every day.

I remember riding my bike around the apartment complex – while at the same time I was riding a horse named Ranger around a large ranch, checking on herds of cattle and making sure the coyotes hadn’t taken any the night before. I remember riding my bike with friends – while simultaniously reliving the movie “All Dogs Go To Heaven,” which we would quote at each other as we rode around until we finished the whole thing – songs and all! We tried this with Fern Gully too, but for some reason we kept losing lines. Also, the fact that there were 3 of us to play all major parts did get confusing from time to time.

I remember crawling into a hot bath and stretching out after a day of bike riding and other fun stuff – but at the same time I was Hank the Cowdog, settling into the Emerald Spring to soak my cares away. So much of my childhood is a duality of memory and imagination. So much of my life now I owe to those hours and days spent playing around in fantasy worlds and building stories around the otherwise mundane tasks I was doing every day.

Would I be the artist and writer I am today if it weren’t for those years of imagination? Would the story that’s become my first novel, that branched itself off into my fursona and my online avatar have ever even taken shape if it weren’t for these games of imagination? If I’d had more than two or three friends at any given time, would I have had the time to create the rich fantasy worlds I’ve constructed over the years? Would I even be where I am today?

Imagination is so important in a child’s development. Fantasy and reality exist along a blurred line that is very easy to cross when you have the mind of a child. But looking back on it with the mind of an adult, I can clearly see that line of demarcation. That duality of so many of my memories, the coexistence of fantasy and reality.

I know my mom worried about me sometimes, and my living in a fantasy world. But it was just so much more interesting than reality – and looking back, I can certainly tell the difference. So I have to ultimately thank you, mom and dad. Thank you for the trip down memory lane when we came to visit, and thank you for encouraging me to create and live my dreams when I was growing up. Without that encouragement, I doubt I’d be where I am today.

And I love where I am.