An Invitation To Imagine Nation
By Melissa Unger, Founder of Seymour.
Youʼre lying on your back on the damp grass. Above you, puffy, white clouds float by.
“Do you see it?” your father asks.
“A rabbit!” You squeal excitedly, pointing up at the sky. You roll over and nuzzle his neck. The smell of soil and aftershave fills your nostrils.
You are nine.
On car rides, you press your forehead against the glass and gaze at the landscape blurring by; you imagine an entire universe in each streak of color. A knight gallops alongside the car, javelin poised, flag flying. You place your palm flat against the window in silent communion.
I remember sitting in my room on Sundays with nothing but my imagination to keep me company. The wallpaper had a daisy print and the flowers would sometimes wiggle for me as if swaying in a light breeze. I had a huge poster of James Dean on the back of my closet door. An enormous, life-sized image. He and I often took walks together along starry California roadways meticulously mapped out in my mind. At night, the shadows on the ceiling ran down the walls like gushing rivers, my bed a raft.
It is the late 1970ʼs and none of our current technology has yet been invented. Sure, there is a TV, but it is in the den, encased in imitation wood and it stands awkwardly on the edge of the room like a too-tall girl slouching to better fit in. We watch it a few times a week, all together. My dad reclining on the daybed, my mother sitting in the large crimson armchair, me at her feet, my back against her legs. Her lotion smells like mimosa. We laugh together. Sometimes what I see scares me and my mom drapes her bathrobe over my head, I watch through the cotton weave and use my imagination to fill in the blanks.
Before all of the incessant intrusions, the perpetual pokes; from the magnificent harbor of my childhood bed, and the comfort of my infinite mind, I would imagine each new day.
Behind my closed eyelids, early mornings before school, the day would unfold like a movie. Michael would perhaps pass me a note, I would maybe manage to finally climb the rope in gym class. My art teacher might suggest, “Draw a picture of a volcano.”
“But Iʼve never seen one.”
“Just use your imagination,” sheʼd reply, playfully patting me on the shoulder.
I worry these days, about imagination.
In the penumbra I would lie there sailing the wonderful waves of my mind; lulled by their even and endless ebb and flow.
I would like to find my way back to that place of innate and essential calm and creativity.
You know how it is…
On the street, on the train, in the living room, in the bedroom, all of our eyes are turned relentlessly downward toward myriad tiny screens. We gather information like grim reapers, frenetically reaping. We cut it, re-paste it, appropriate it, slice it, dice it, dissect it down until it is unrecognizable, and then we give it another title, sign our name to it and call it creation.
But is it?
Today, as you speedily scan this page, likely reading in a rushed diagonal dash, your finger already poised to click to the next website, the next image, the next article…
Just pause for a minute mid-gallop, sniff the air, bend your ear and heed the plea surfacing from the far edge of your tumultuous consciousness.
Please close your eyes and accept this whispered invitation to explore your own imagination.
Image by & courtesy of the artist Scott Treleaven: www.scotttreleaven.com
Published: April 10th, 2012