Saturday, February 27, 2010

Imagine That

"Nothing happens unless first we dream."
~ Carl Sandburg


Oprah and I have a love/hate relationship, one-sided though it may be. But Friday, because it was my day off, I stopped channel surfing and watched her.

There she was, Oprah Winfrey, airing out her closet for the world to see--Oprah "my-dog-gets-acupuncture" Winfrey admitting that she went through a phase in which she bought fanciful, delicate little pocketbooks with the dream of being one of the ladies who lunch, pocketbook in her overly expressive hand. Except in her internationally televised closet clean out, she confessed that she doesn't have time to lunch. The dream was just that. A romantic notion. In the context of reality, it grew rather ridiculous.

There I sat on my couch, shocked. Thinking to myself: Oprah does this too? I mean, she's Oprah! Surely, if you were Oprah Winfrey, there would be no need for fantasy. Because you're Oprah. You're living the fantasy.

But Oprah, adult that she may be, dreams of lunching with ornate, miniature handbags.


My niece, "Mugs", used to lie down on her back on her bed or the couch or the living room floor, and say, "Don't bother me, I'm having imaginings." Her face would beam, eyes closed, as her mind drifted into the fantasies of her heart. She has never looked so beautiful or spirited or content as in her quiet, imagined moments.


If I could be one person in all of cinema, I'd be Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly, from You've Got Mail. She owns a bookstore in New York. She has gumption or moxie or whatever you want to call it, yet she's quirky and kind. And she dresses with a classic finesse. I often channel her while shopping for clothing. I think she is responsible for all my cardigans.

If I could be one person in all of literature, I'd be Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice. Not because she gets Mr. Darcy (frankly, he's a bit of an ass), but because she has just the right thing to say at just the right moment. She's a wit whereas I wake up at 2 in the morning with the perfect, saucy retort I wish would've come to me 12 hours ago when my cheeks flushed and my brain went quiet.


When I was little, my day was spent imagining. More sentences began with "Pretend that..." than I know how to count. I lived for make-believe. Dress up and tea parties and princesses and baby dolls. These are the magical times of my childhood, living that intangible pink something that isn't.

And then I grew up. And life got busy. And make-believe was for children. Magic was for children. Lying under the tree in the backyard, dreaming of my life stretched wide before me, it was all a thing of the past.

But is it really? Does it have to be?

I think Oprah and her pocketbooks, Mugs and her imaginings, me and my fictitious characters prove that our need for imagining never really goes away. We try to deny it or make the fantasies our reality as adults. As children perhaps the dream of it all is so intense that it is enough to get us by for a time.

But in the end, there's something beautiful about imagination. There is power in all that the human mind can create for us. There's a quote often attributed to Einstein about imagination being more valuable than knowledge--that imagination has the quality of being limitless, while knowledge has an ending point. I think imagination is the ultimate expression of intelligence. Anything of worth started first in the mind. I also believe that even if nothing comes of it, even if the wild fancies of the mind end where they began, there is value in allowing ourselves to imagine.

* image found here.


Alice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alice said...

Thank you for this. Dreaming and imagining are some things I need to spend more time paying attention to. My adult cynical self is sometimes far too hard on those hopes and dreams and my old "pretend that" or "When I grow up" thoughts I had.

You truly have a gift with words my dear. Thank you for inspiring me to be better. I don't think I tell you that enough.

p.s. that is the perfect picture for this post ;)

Alice said...

Too bad you can't edit, sorry. That first comment was me with typos at 2 am. Sorry, now this makes comment three :)

Rie Pie said...

Rookie, this is by far my favorite post that you have written.
I love every single part of it.

I might have to steal parts of it - you've inspired me for another post. :)

Jen said...

Beautiful post. I will try to imagine instead of angst while I launder for the rest of today.

Watching Bright Star will help.

Stephanie said...

The loss of imagination is the tragedy of adulthood. Thank you for being brave enough to admit that you still have yours! I like to think I still have mine, and it's good to have friends.

Libby said...

My fantasy is that I'm a big-city type of mom. You know the kind that take their kids to really great museums or on a special "date" to the ballet. And their kids grow up with this wonderful, diverse view of the world.

However, for now, I'm a just a suburb type of a mom. Our great museum is The Treehouse (which I do love, by the way) and I've never attempted to take Levi to the ballet, but maybe I'll take Little Miss Wombmate to see The Nutcracker when she gets older.

In an effort to make this comment even longer, here's my favorite poem on the subject:

A Raisin in the Sun

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
Like a sugary sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes