Do you see what I see?

In the Globe and Mail not long ago there were pictures of two women who were so similar, they could have been the same person. At first glance, my overactive imagination leapt to the conclusion that they were. I envisioned a woman with a double life, maybe even two families, a female version of Jack Lyons in The Pilot’s Wife.

Subsequent investigation proved me wrong, as so often happens when my imagination takes over. The women’s similarity in appearance and the fact that the memorial notices were published on the same day was a simple coincidence.

Still, there may be a novel in what I thought I saw. One more idea for my File of Possible Plots. An advantage of having a healthy imagination is that this file is almost always overflowing. It’s well furnished with romantic, dramatic, and comic perspectives on things that were quite ordinary in real time. Hoof beats? It has to be zebras.

A disadvantage of an overactive imagination is the unproductive distortion of reality. It can cultivate fears when there is nothing to be fearful about. As quickly as I can imagine success, I can imagine failure. This makes it necessary to choose which vision I keep alive. What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. (Plutarch)

When my imagination seizes a common and everyday event and embellishes it to be extraordinary, it’s decision time. Do I let it run loose or do I muzzle it?

Is your imagination a double-edged sword? Does it drive your creativity on one hand and discourage it on the other? How do you harness it for the maximum benefit?

Zebra picture from Wikimedia Commons: A zebra by Lunkwill

Memorial pictures from the Globe and Mail newspaper, Saturday March 19, 2016



Three Days to Save Planet Earth!

Word Count: 320 words  Reading time: 2-3 mins.

Last week I tossed a pile of junk mail onto the kitchen table and these words jumped out at me: Three Days to Save Planet Earth. I blinked and looked again. The flyer actually read: Three Days to Save. I don’t remember what was being advertised because I was too busy catching my breath from the false alarm that the entire planet was three days away from annihilation. I know it’s polluted and overcrowded but I mean, really?

At times my imagination seems to be the most active part of my body. Jules de Gaultier said, “Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.” By those standards I guess I’m well armed.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry thought a rock pile ceased to be a rock pile the moment a single person saw in it the image of a cathedral. As a child I passed many hours building castles on the gray sands of Kye Bay. They housed magical creatures that carried me far away from my dull, earth-bound existence. Those creatures deserted me for a while when I grew up. I’m glad they found me again.

But when I misread that flyer, I immediately started wondering what I should do with my last 72 hours. Very quickly, reality slapped me down with a thud, as it often does. I don’t mind though; in fact I’m grateful that my imagination still launches itself in random directions like this. Without it, that pile of mail would have been nothing more than a stack of paper on its way to the recycling bin. Instead it was a rich opportunity to contemplate an alternative reality.

That flight of fancy wasn’t all that unusual for me and it made me wonder: is this a form of mild dyslexia? Do other writers see things that aren’t there? If you’re one that does, has your distorted reading, hearing, or seeing ever led you to a great story or plot twist?


Photo by: Len Green