I have a big, healthy, unabashedly overactive imagination. This is something books and movies market as being an extravagant, slightly ridiculous spin on reality when the events at hand are exasperatingly dull or outlandish. Cinematic fun and games. I won’t lie, I like those parts in movies; but they never show the other parts of life that go along with having a big, healthy, overactive imagination. A healthy imagination helps you grasp advanced concepts. A big imagination thinks outside the box. An overactive imagination tells you that there’s a tiny dragon inside that coffee machine and that’s the real reason your latte is a thousand degrees hotter than the surface of the sun, notwithstanding the fact that you yourself are a seasoned barista well over the age of 22 and you’ve seen the inside of that machine twice now.Yes, living with an overactive imagination means you will never not be thinking of something- be it a new game to play, an alternative way to design that machine, or just reading way too much action and adventure into everyday happenings (See dragon, above). It also means that you get disappointed a lot, but not in the ways you think.
When you’re younger the grown ups seem to have it all going on. Not only do they do what they want seemingly whenever they want to, but they have such mystery. At least, that was my perception as a kid. My big, healthy, overactive imagination assigned this glowing, unknowable essence to everything I ever heard an adult see or do. Everything I did felt so flat and real all the time, but the grown ups- oh, they had something else. They could see the top of the fridge without the aid of chairs or counters, abilities far beyond my wildest dreams. It’s a fantastic thing, growing up with big, overactive ideas. It makes you zealous to learn about everything, wildly enthusiastic about the smallest details, and a big pain in the butt to people who are just trying to get through the sexual harassment training and on with their lives.
It wasn’t until I got older (at the very least, old enough to see the top of the fridge myself) that I realized adult life was as real and flat as the chores I did as a child. The first time I experienced the flatness was when I held a piece of silk for the first time. I had read countless books describing silk as a seamless, flowing, bright and shining piece of draping heaven. I had seen famous paintings and tapestries, stared down photos of models, heard women talking reverently in stores and salons about so-and-so’s new silk gown, or the new silk whatever being sold that season. Nothing I had heard, read, or seen in paintings and photos could prepare me for what I held in my hand. Seamless and flowing?! I could see the stitches, I could count the threads in the dress. It wasn’t any shinier that the clothes around it and dude, was it heavy. I felt totally scammed. Not only was this emperor not wearing clothes, I was pretty sure that everyone around me still thought clothes were leaves.
Much later of course, I came to terms with the fact that my own big, healthy, overactive imagination had set me up to take that fall. I held a lot of silk before I realized not all that is praised is ethereal. Those are the disappointments I’m talking about. The dragon will never crawl out of the espresso machine, and that’s to be expected. But when the mystical ‘otherness’ factor doesn’t present itself when I hit a landmark moment (Seriously, the top of the fridge was covered in dust. I don’t know why I was so stoked to get up there on my own), I always feel a little tug of sadness. It’s never in the real, flat world that you find the universe moving, it’s in the inner, world. It’s in prayer. The seamless, flowing things are moments in fellowship, and the mystical otherness is peace in your heart. This world is flat and at a complete loss when it comes to the big, healthy, overactive streaks of grace and greatness found in God.
So maybe my imagination doesn’t lead to that many disappointments after all.