I came upon a forum post recently that read – ‘I’ve invented a complete imaginary world. Am I insane?’
Having created an extensive imaginary world myself, I was more than a little curious to read what the consensus was on this question. Not that anything was going to shake my belief that imaginary worlds are important expressions of our full and complete selves. I just wanted to know if I was in a strange minority and should hesitate to bring it up in job interviews.
Of course this lonely post was answered by a wave of people who had their own imaginary (often quite elaborate) worlds. The discussion was pretty fascinating (link provided below).
I have to say I get annoyed when people refer to daydreaming or imagined worlds as ‘escapism’. I would go out on a limb and say that this actually has nothing to do with escapism, and is one of the purest forms of ‘realism’ imaginable.
An imaginary world is a space in which to be different versions of ourselves and to experience unexpected, wonderful and sometimes alarming aspects of our minds. At these moments you are becoming as free from outside constructions (of who you should be, for example) as it is ever possible to become. You are actually facing yourself rather than ‘losing’ yourself.
I’m also annoyed by patronising accounts of children’s and teenagers’ imaginary worlds as ‘safe places’ where they can practice to be proper adults (of course, on reaching adulthood, they should instantly relinquish any make believe tendencies). Anyone who has an imaginary world worth its salt will know it’s not a safe place at all! (That’s enough of me getting annoyed now).
Obviously authors and artists need to hold onto their imaginary worlds. Maybe everyone else should start to feel a bit better about them too. After all, you’re using more of the creative capacity of your brain, and that has to be a good thing.
P.S. Good news on imaginary friends also. Apparently they’re the expression of a healthy imagination, and now we should all be a little self-conscious if we never had one. I don’t really think I did, just a cast of characters I inhabited at will. Nothing weird about that, is there?
‘I’ve invented a complete imaginary world. Am I insane?’:
Research on children’s imaginary friends:
Or maybe we can be a little lazy and just borrow other people’s imaginary friends:
Toys and imaginary worlds: http://beyondthecall.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/imagine-if/