“This has to be an interesting post with a name like that,” is what I know you’re thinking. Well, really, I just happen to be eating carrot sticks and drinking cold brew coffee at the time of writing this post, so I guess you could say they were the inspiration behind this forthcoming collection of thoughts. Please keep reading anyway.
You know that period of time before you are about to do something you’ve never done? You start imagining what this new adventure is going to be like. You think of how it’s going to make you feel, what it’s going to look like, the setting, the atmosphere, and the vibes of this new place. You think about what you’ll wear and what you’ll do. We spend all of this time imagining but we’re always wrong. Maybe not about everything, but there is going to be something that happens on this new adventure that you weren’t expecting. And there’s no way to prepare. There is no possible way to imagine or predict correctly this human experience. Should you stop trying to imagine? I could tell you that but I know I couldn’t. My imagination never really slowed down from the time I was 5 to now. Maybe that’s just an Allison-ism but my mind could keep imagining endlessly. I try to imagine situations and places that are no where close to anything I could possibly predict. And I’m always surprised because reality shatters my dreams. This sounds so negative but I don’t mean it in that way. I mean that the more you imagine, the more you are surprised. This is why I love imagining and also adventuring. I love having my expectations shattered and I love seeing and feeling things that I could’ve never imagined.
Maybe I should clarify my definition of adventure. Adventure, to me, is something, anything, that is new to you. It could be as simple as taking a different route to class or walking through a city you’ve never been to. It can be starting a new job or ordering something new at a restaurant. And although some adventures aren’t life-changing, they’re essential to making your life interesting.
My dad used to always tell me I lived in my own little world. And maybe that was because I spent more time in tee ball games picking flowers in the outfield or looking at the clouds. Or maybe it’s because during my ballet lessons as a child, my mom would sit outside and hear the instructor say “Allison! Pay attention!” countless times in every lesson. But he says this still, even after my attention span has improved beyond the limits of a five year old. Even now, as I sit in class as a college student, I’d be lying if I said that I sat in class for three hours and listened attentively and took notes the whole time. That’s not how I work. I almost have to be imagining the concepts I’m learning and their place in my life and the lives of others. I learn best when I can apply a concept to something specific and easy to remember, like a story, rather that a list of vocabulary or theories. This is helpful in most classes but in others I sometimes have to force my distracted imagination to stop for awhile, which is so hard to do. This is why I can’t tell you how to calculate enthalpy change using Hess’ Law or the valence electron configuration of any of the transitional elements. I somewhat understood these topics at some point during chemistry my freshman year, but they have long left my brain. I can’t even blame my imagination on this one, I’m just really bad at chemistry.
But going back to imagination, I think it’s place in my life makes me who I am. And maybe I spend too much time with it. But I definitely spend time in the real world too. I understand that there is hurting and suffering happening all around me. I understand, or at least am beginning to understand, the current state of our world and the need for change. And there is so much that I don’t understand still, and I recognize this. But even in my “daydreamer” life, I am far from a naive millennial that I’m often assumed to be. Using imagination can be a strength too. The real world is known for kicking your ass. And if you spend too much time there, you will get burnt out. Imagination is place to escape without actually leaving your house. So, keep dreaming, people. I mean it. Even if you think I’m crazy.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” – Lewis Carroll