“What makes your character cry?”
Here’s how I know that anyone could write a story, I challenge you to find one mom who didn’t immediately imagine what it would have been like if it were her eight year old caught in yesterday’s explosion. I bet they could tell you fifty ways they visualized it; could probably describe it down to the clothes their child might have been wearing.
Imagination is a wonderful and awful thing. It allows us to come up with fantastic ideas, machines that fly, foods that pop, tights that are see-through (okay, maybe not always great ideas). It also, though, gives us the fodder to speculate, what if. What if I don’t get that job? What if the tree fell the other way? What if our school was next? Like stories of psychics wanting to shut out other people’s thoughts, I am sure I am not alone in sometimes wanting to shut down my imagination.
I see this fine balance most clearly in my own daughter who has an amazing imagination but also struggles with anxiety. Her body always connects the what if to a fight or flight response… even when the what if is potentially positive. What if I get the part? The excitement turns to adrenalin, which tells her body there is danger, which turns her positive thought into a negative one.
The only way I have learned to shut off the voice of my imagination is to focus only on where I am and what I am doing at the moment. I ground myself by washing dishes thoughtfully; feeling the soap and the water on my hands, and hearing the splash of it against the edge of the sink. Or I garden. I listen to the birds calling and the mower rumbling next door. I feel the dirt crumble beneath my fingers and I watch a worm make its way slowly back down, into the moist earth.
Today I pray and today I focus on the moment. Because today my imagination is not my friend.
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