Category Archives: Imagination

The Perks Of Thinking Vividly (or, Why I Sometimes Think I Should Be In An Asylum)

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To avoid throwing you into complete disarray at the sudden wildness of the following post, some background probably need be provided. I have a very active imagination – the kind that automatically goes into full vision overdrive if you give me a graphic or not-so-graphic description. When you have a conversation with me on a normal basis, chances are everything you say is conjuring an image in my head, sometimes even multiple images in one go playing like a movie. My brain also has the habit of envisioning the most twisted and odd outcomes that could result from a certain circumstance. For example, you could say, “What if I trip and fall on the stage?” and my brain will instantly begin a series of images or even a fully connected video of what might possibly happen – like you flipping forward and into the microphone with the crappy wiring system and detaching it from its cables, causing it to catch a spark on the pristine white paper that you have prepared for your speech and setting the entire stage on fire (which will most possibly result in the speaker exploding, which will make the headmistress fly off the stage comically the way action villains do in movies) while you tumble headfirst down the steps and lay sprawled out on the tarred gravel beneath you, blood seeping out of your skull.

Just think of everything that could go wrong here.

Just think of everything that could go wrong here.

 

Creeped out yet?

Yeah I probably shared too much information there. You are more than welcome to report me to an insane asylum.

Which brings me back to the main point of this blog post.

Actually, this blog post has no main point. It is merely the fact that I’ve been shot a several odd stares and been given raised eyebrows every single time I express a less-than-ordinary opinion that has prompted me to write my thoughts down in an attempt to force them into organised submission. Because of course, we all know that’s totally going to work.

Maybe one day if I keep telling myself that it might actually work. Who knows?

The good thing is I only think this way if you suggest it by asking a question or making a statement, so usually I don’t imagine things that way. But chances are if you give me an innuendo I am going to envision it and then get scarred for life. So, just a warning. Also, if you describe a person to me by saying, “Oh, she’s insanely tall and has dark brown hair and she always wears a pair of bright blue spectacles”, I am probably going to imagine her in my own Roald Dahl-esque way and then get completely thrown off when I actually meet her in person.

A couple weeks back, while climbing some very flimsy looking metal stairs up to my Speaking class, my friend told me she was afraid that the stairs would collapse suddenly because of how rickety they seemed. While I had previously been thinking about coming up with a study plan for an assignment, I now vaguely began to wonder what would happen if the bolts on the sides of the stairs were to come apart. I then proceeded to enjoy a mini-movie in my head involving the steps slowly sliding downwards the way they only ever do in cartoons, and me starting to fall only to get stuck because there was physically no way I could possibly fit through any of those holes (yes, physics do matter in imaginary movies). I forgot about this very quickly but I had to climb those stairs again today, which reminded me of what happened last time I did, which made me ponder the way I think and imagine things, which then set off an entire train of thought that led to the creation of this blog post. Needless to say, without this extremely active imagination, I would never have any ideas regarding material to write, so I’m actually pretty thankful for it.

And everything that could go wrong here!

And everything that could go wrong here!

Reading to me is all-encompassing for this same reason – if I am riveted on a book, my eyes fixed sturdily on the pages, I am not going to hear you calling my name until you’ve violently grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken me roughly a few times. That’s because I’m lost in the world that the book has conjured for me. Every single character on paper is transformed into a real life person, and in my mind’s eye, I can feel and experience the world created in the book and even interact with it. Hence, I’m in a completely different dimension and it takes a bit of effort on your part to get me back into the current world again. I keep getting yelled at for this particular trait of mine – people think I’m honestly, legitimately trying to ignore them, which is really not my intention at all. Some of them have informed me that it’s simply not possible for me to not hear anything at all. Let me tell you that it’s perfectly possible. In fact, it happens to me almost every day. Unfortunately, this also makes me the ideal target for assassins. Oh well.

Personally, I love having an imagination that works so vividly. It makes everything a lot more interesting. I know someone whose thoughts tend to follow Final Destination type of train of thought, and whenever he voices his thoughts to me, I can always see them happening with insanely perfect clarity before my very eyes, like my own personal, private movie. Needless to say, I find any conversations with him very fulfilling – it’s like I have a constant stream of fascinating (albeit slightly grotesque) images and little clips to go through, which is always wonderful for someone who considers herself a writer. This same person also tends to mention his less-than-usual thoughts about everything to me quite often, and I absolutely love it. It’s like this really amazing source for constant entertainment and inspiration – which is one of the plus points of having an imagination that runs wild very easily. Also, with this type of mindset, it’s impossible to get bored. I literally am incapable of being bored. If I feel the drag starting to creep up on me, my brain automatically gives itself something to envision, just to occupy its time, and I disappear into my own little bubble, where I can make things happen however I want them to (I actually wrote a post fully describing what goes through my head during a boring class in a post entitled Wanderer, which you can read if you like. And yes, this is shameless self-promotion). This probably explains why The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is one of my all-time favourite movies. Although I’m fairly certain I’m nowhere near as socially awkward as Walter (don’t quote me on that, though, because you will most likely have a different opinion if you were to ever meet me), I can definitely relate. This is why I began writing in the first place – to have somewhere to put all of these thoughts and situations I envision. Although thankfully very few of them result in stage-exploding tragedies.

Hey, did you guys know that if all oxygen on earth were to vanish for just a second, about twenty-one percent of air pressure would just disappear? You know what would happen then? Our inner ears would probably explode! Yes! Actually, scratch that, what does it matter if just our inner ears explode – all living cells would explode, period! (This has something to do with the fact that water, being made up of one third oxygen, would turn to hydrogen, and that would turn gaseous and expand heavily in volume. This also probably means all our oceans would just evaporate on the spot! And all the water in our bodies -that’s 70% of our body, kids! – will simply cease to exist! We would literally be withered, and…well…dead! So who cares about eardrums exploding when we’re all dead?) We would also all probably get a really horrible sunburn, since the ozone layer is mostly made up of oxygen. Also, metal objects would all immediately stick together because the only thing currently stopping them from melding is a layer of oxygen, which of course, would vanish and cause all metal things to fuse together. That means every single last metal object on Earth would stick together, forming an endless link of non-stop metal. I’m sure you think it sounds cool, but think of the person unlucky enough to be standing in between those metal objects -which is, essentially, everyone. I mean, that person would already be dead, but imagine if they weren’t. Also, because a lot of the Earth’s crust is oxygen, everything beneath our feet would just pretty much crumble because there would be a lot less to stand on. So right now, I’ve got the visual of a bunch of dead people with withered up, sunburned skin and blood oozing out of their ears stuck inside one single metal piece that goes all the way around the world as they fall into an abyss. You still with me?

Earth-exploding

Yeah…I’ll let myself out.

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Raindrops, Clouds, And The Other Little Things In Life

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The movement of water over a polished, tiled floor always fascinated me as a child. With the naïve eagerness of innocence, I would sit cross-legged and wide-eyed, watching precariously as rivulets of smooth, clear liquid slid gently from one groove to the next, a tantalizingly slow trickle that weaved intricate patterns as it went along, leaving a glistening trail for my gaze to follow until it resolved into a single, shapeless puddle. I wasn’t certain, at the time, what so enraptured my attention about the steady progress of the water from meager droplets to a full-formed body. I don’t think I really wondered about why; I was just too riveted by the seemingly effortless grace that enabled something that started off small and unnoticeable to grow into something that could actually made an impact. The same went with watching raindrops on a windowsill. Whether it was on the panes of the old family car or against the glass of the windows attached to my room, I was hopelessly infatuated with water of any kind. My gaze would remain stuck on droplets as they chased each other rapidly down the windows, my kid-side silently rooting for “my favourite raindrop” to win until it rolled off the bottom of the glass and I picked another random droplet to cheer for. It was good fun, and the repetitive motion was soothing and relaxing to someone like me. It was one of the few times I would actually willingly sit still – when I was witnessing water travel.

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Eventually, I grew bored with watching water and turned my attention to homework and other more important things. I still “raced” raindrops when they pattered onto my window, but when my mom and I moved into an apartment where my room faced the hallways instead of the outside, that stopped as well. I don’t often tire of things, but for some reason, watching water ceased to hold any meaning for me as I grew older. I would skip over puddles instead of watching them grow and would irritatingly wipe droplets off of objects instead of joining in on their journeys. Perhaps it was because of my temperament. You see, I’m more of a fire person by nature, really. I’ve got an occasionally overly intense personality and a temper that threatens to blow up disastrously and has been likened to a very volatile volcano. When I get passionate about something, like a book or a topic of discussion, I get fiery and expressive about them. The same way, after a while, the fire sometimes burns out. I guess that’s sort of what happened with my interest in water – there was a spark, followed by a heated blaze, then it just sort of died down and fizzled out.

Accurate description of my temper.

Accurate description of my temper.

I sound a little like I’m romanticising the whole thing, but to me, the time I ceased to view water as anything more than a necessity for basic life and an occasional nuisance was the time I stopped appreciating the little things in life. We’re all guilty of that, in a way. We stop noticing the pigeons landing on the pavement, stop caring that if we squint just right that cotton-candy cloud looks uncannily like a cross between a dog and a clown, stop pausing at regular intervals to curiously reach out and touch a particularly vivid flower poking out of the hedge. Instead, we start walking around a lot faster than our legs have the capacity of carrying us, in consequence moving around far too fast for our eyes to fully register what’s going on around us. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, we see, but we do not observe. We give excuses like, “I’m far too busy”, “I’m in a bit of a hurry”, “I have work to do” – and then we bustle along away, completely missing everything around us, focused only on ourselves and the Very Important Work that we have to do as Very Important Adults. The childlike wonder we were born with, which makes us love everything in the world and become endlessly fascinated by all things even remotely new to our eyes and minds, dissipates, replaced instead by boredom and the need to act like Grown Ups and Responsible Adults. It’s not that we can’t see the beauty of everything around us, we just don’t. And that to me is something very upsetting.

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Personally, I have always been the kind of person who notices everything around me and gets distracted by it. This probably also explains why I am extremely clumsy. I am simply not capable of walking down a crowded shopping complex without overhearing a million different conversations, observing what people are wearing, or taking an unconscious survey of the number of people there alone, with family or with a partner. If a girl looks remotely annoyed that her boyfriend has his eyes on another girl in a skimpy outfit on the other side of the polished shopping mall floor, I will see it. If a boy attempts to sneak a couple of candies into his mothers black probably fake Prada bag, oblivious to the fact that a little girl sitting nearby has noticed and is giggling about it to her father, I will notice it from all the way across the shop, where I’m standing behind a stack of magazines. If a waiter’s watch flashes from his right hand three tables away, I will observe and draw the conclusion that he’s probably left handed. And yet, despite the fact that I see all these things on a daily basis and do not possess the ability to focus on only one thing at a time, I choose to ignore the things I see around me. It’s not a conscious decision at all – it’s just something that has been hammered into me. I don’t have time to stop and observe that the butterfly with blue wings has a pattern on them that looks almost like a cat. I am simply too busy. I have things to write and people to meet up with and assignments to get done and university to get to – I simply don’t have time for useless extra bits of attractive-looking information that will add virtually nothing to my general knowledge or do anything that will help with the test I have to sit for today.

Why do I think this way? Maybe it’s because time flies so fast that I feel I have to move even faster to keep up with it. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Time flies, and life is so short. Granted, it’s the longest thing we’ll ever do, but when you really get to thinking about it, life is a painfully, frighteningly short thing. Think of all the beautiful things we miss on a daily basis when we dash by without so much as glancing at the world around us, all the sights and sounds and scents that our brain wants us to notice but we dismiss immediately as unimportant. That’s why I’ve made a pledge with myself. Despite the fact that I have a rapidly increasing workload and a lot of commuting back and forth to do, I will always make some time to stop and smell the roses – even literally, if I must, because roses are my favourite flower.

I’ve thought about this long and hard overnight (when I couldn’t sleep and just passed the time staring at the ceiling for several hours enshrouded in darkness), and I came to the realisation that it’s the smallest things in life that really make everything more fulfilling and wonderful: A genuine, honest smile from a stranger. Your favourite song playing on the radio and drawing to a close just as you pull into your parking spot at work. Taking that first sip of coffee in the mornings, or hot chocolate on a cold, rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon. Finding an extra five bucks in the pocket of that pair of jeans you haven’t worn for a month. When you wake up before your alarm rings catastrophically in the morning and can savour the glorious feeling of being able to go back to sleep again. Getting a curly fry in your order of regular fries. A sweet little text message that consists of no more than maybe ten words but still brings a smile to your face, even on the most stressful of days. What’s life, really, if we don’t enjoy the little things?

Anyone watch Zombieland?

Anyone watch Zombieland?

A few days ago, while I waited for the bus on a tiled pavement, it began to rain. Water fell into the grooves between the tiles and flowed slowly through the path paved for them. My eyes fell on them and a wave of nostalgia washed over me like a wave. I hesitated for a moment, then put down my social science textbook and drowned out all thoughts about homework. And just like that, I was back in my childhood days, surrounded by noise and bustling people but focused only on the slow travel of the water before me.

I think it’s because I finally realised that the things in life we tend to overlook are often the most beautiful.

Wanderer

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I am a wanderer by nature. My feet tend to unconsciously take my body places I did not originally intend to go, my heart aches for distant lands, my brain yearns for new sights to process and experiences to learn from. Anymore than my body and restless soul cannot be kept in one place, my mind and being cannot be kept grounded.

…which is why things like this tend to happen during a particularly uninteresting class.

In a monochrome, grey, air-conditioned room, my eyes may appear to rest upon the screen before me, indicating that I am attentive and present, but as a monotonous voice drones on, my gaze minutely averts, flicking around the whitewashed walls and noting the exact shade of the floor while my imagination, inevitably, begins to wander. I watch as swirls of yellow reminiscent of jasmines begin to creep upwards from the corners of the not-quite-white walls, filling the blankness with vibrant hues. The floor appears to begin to fissure, cracks surfacing against the papered cream floors, a violent orange threatening to burst from beneath the cement like molten lava. Images of starry skies filled with falling comets crashing down towards me start to form on the ceiling. As much as I try, I cannot control the directions my brain chooses to shoot off towards when held inactive for too long.

Longingly, I glance briefly out the window. My vision becomes enraptured by trees swaying gently in the breeze, an azure blue sky with just enough fluffy white cloud cover to promise a pleasantly warm (not sweltering hot) day outside. What I wouldn’t give to be basking in the golden glow of the sun instead of the glare of electronic white light! It would certainly be far more rewarding than wasting away seated in a cold, understated room where the musty scent of unwashed carpet, underused air-conditioning and damp walls mixes in with the lingering smell of metallic steel that is often associated with computers. Outside, just within my line of vision, someone saws down a tree growing right next to the windows of the library. It tumbles over, toppling far too fast, and crashes directly into the green-tinted glass panes beside it. There’s the too-loud tinkering of shattering glass, the screech of tables and chairs possibly being thrown askew, then silence.

I blink, and the destruction is gone – the tree is upright and sturdy as ever in its place, windows of the library untouched apart from the occasional gentle scrape of the tree’s branches against it. The person with the saw is nowhere in sight. Realistically speaking, I suppose it would be pretty difficult to cut down a tree with a manual saw. I shake my head and turn my attention back to the lesson at hand.

The clock on the wall ticks with a slow, determined rhythm, as if taunting me and reminding me that every moment I spend cooped up in this building is another moment that I’m away from the somewhat fresh air (“fresh” being the relative term here) I look forward to taking in almost every second of the day. As I stare at the second hand moving at its uniform, agonizingly slow pace, the hour hand begins to swivel in the opposite direction. My eyes widen minutely before I force them shut, knowing it’s just another illusion – my restless mind playing tricks on me. But this time, merely blinking does not chase away the relentless imagined vision playing before me like a strip of film that doesn’t fit with a movie reel. The hour hand swings dangerously fast, picking up speed and spiraling around the clock face until it is nothing but a bullet-like blur, racing past the other two hands and setting the clock’s face slowly ablaze until the plastic covering it shatters, sending all three hands shooting out of it with alarming accuracy right towards me –

I snap out of it as the teacher calls my name. Yes, what was it? What’s the answer to that question? Umm, it’s A, ma’am. Yes, I’m sure. Thank you, ma’am.

The crisis averted, I stare up at the ceiling once more, and this time, I do not even have to wait before dark, ominous thunderclouds appear high above me in place of the plaster and electronic lighting. Fiery hail is swiftly approaching from above, falling rapidly but with the same slow-motion melodrama one is always subjected to watching in B-grade disaster movies. A hailstone crashes through the already scarlet sky, slamming down with incredible force onto the wooden table before me. The stench of melting plastic and rusting metal hits my senses as ember begins to catch on the notebook that I’m messily taking notes with. I feel the heat rising around me, fumes assaulting my nostrils and flames beginning to engulf my body, prickling on my skin painfully, and –

Just like that, as suddenly as it arrived, the visual vanishes. It is just me, staring at a brightly-coloured Powerpoint presentation, desk and computer fully intact, bitingly cold air raising goosebumps on my flesh instead of fire. Class is over. Wordlessly, I pack my bag, sling it over my shoulder nonchalantly, stand up and start to walk away. As I leave, I cast a final glance sweepingly back over the room.

“What you looking at?” one of my friends asks me, only half-curious to know.

I shake my head to indicate that it’s nothing.

“Dude, how were you not falling asleep just now? I was, like, dying already. That class is so boring.”

I shrug. “I dunno. Got a lot to occupy me with, I guess.”

My friends stare at me, dumbfounded.

I look over my shoulder one more time at the room, and am just able to make out the lava sprouting out of the floor, the bright-yellow swirls on the walls, my flaming desk, the shattered clock face, and the ruined library in the distance. I smile reassuringly to my friends and close the door behind me with a final click.

They need never know.