Another lovely sunny day at the allotment; mostly weeding; very satisfying, too.
When I was at school the teachers used to say that I had an “excellent imagination”. No, not because I told fibs!! Or because I had an imaginary playmate. But because, when asked to read a story, or imagine something, or put myself in the place of a person, animal or thing, I wholeheartedly took part and ‘became’ whatever it was, or ‘lived’ as a character in the story, for the duration of being involved with it.
When asked to become a character while reading a story I WAS that person, and even when we were given a book to read and report on a week later I could see everything with crystal clarity, because I was the one with the horse and we saved the village! Or whatever the story was.
One time, I can’t remember the book but the ending was that children had been marooned on an island somewhere (no, not Lord of the Flies) and they were rescued but had to leave all their animals behind; i.e. the stray goat or cow that conveniently provided them with milk, a cat and a dog and probably others that I have since forgotten. Not only was the children’s sadness chronicled by the author as they took their last look at all the animals lined up on the shore but he/she described how the animals were calling after them, and the goat or cow crying because it was time to be milked. How cruel was that?!
The time came for me to summarise the story for the rest of the class and all I could do was sob that they had to leave their animals and there was nobody left to look after them. I worried about those animals for weeks afterwards. Fancy giving me a book like that!
When asked to think of ourselves as objects I WAS a tree; not just running around with my arms flapping about but I had branches that waved in the breeze; I dappled the sunlight with my dark green leaves; birds would fly around me. Asked to think what it would be like to be a brick in a wall and I could imagine the hardness and the weight of everything else above me. I could BE a piece of paper in a dustbin and suddenly see the light as an unseen hand took the lid off and threw something else in.
And when asked to sit in one corner of a room and imagine being in the other corner and seeing everything in reverse, or to imagine living in the past or in the future I could do that, too, with no problem.
At the time I thought that being told that I had an excellent imagination was a compliment; it certainly sounded like one. But, you know, it is a curse as well. Because it seems as though everyone else I know lives for today, with a rough plan for tomorrow or the future. Not just occasionally; I can do it occasionally of course, when I put my mind to it! However, it isn’t automatic; I either seem to be remembering things that happened, which I can’t do anything about, or imagining myself in the future looking back at my life.
That is why, a few weeks ago, one of the reporters seized on a comment I’d made about always imagining myself with my own children and being certain that I would visit places with them, and printed it. They wanted to be specific about how old I was when I thought that, and I said about 12 because they wanted an age, and it was true enough, but really it seemed to be almost as far back as I can remember, long before 12 and long afterwards too.
We’d be outside playing, or somewhere with Mum and Dad, and I’d just imagine the same scene but with me as the Mummy, showing my own children how to do things, or teaching them to build sandcastles. We’d do something that was fun and it was as though I was storing the memory, promising my future children that we’d do that, too.
It wasn’t a conscious “I want children” thought; it was a subconscious “we’ll do this as well” thought.
And then as I grew up and mixed with older people I would listen to the stories of their lives. We’d visit my Mum’s Mum in Northamptonshire, and lots of ‘honorary’ Aunts and Uncles, and they’d regale us with stories of what life was like when they were younger. I was fascinated, and began to imagine how I would tell the story of my own life when I was older. (I didn’t envisage telling the world through this blog, I must say!)
And the more I listened to people telling their own stories the more I realised that life is a precious, fleeting, transitory thing.
Memories are good because they reflect our life experiences to date, and they are part of what has made us what we are. And the future is where we are going, and we must ensure that when we reach the end of the journey we can tell our stories with few tears and regrets and much laughter and affection.
But it is important, too, that we should live in the present, and enjoy it, because it is gone all too quickly.
There is a point to all this, which I shall reveal tomorrow, as I’ve rambled on for quite long enough tonight!