Imagination. The ability to picture what is not there. An alternative reality. A scenario that blossoms out of the brain, often eclipsing the reality all around. Just like Ron and Hermione and Harry have eclipsed the school-yard acquaintances of so many children. Or just like their school, Hogwarts, keeps eclipsing ordinary, “real” schools.
And what is real really? Only the provable school pals that you can demonstrate from dated photos in a box of attic keepsakes? Or the still-looming hulk of a building that you can point to, saying, “I once was lessoned there by a series of chalk-dusted and strict or lenient, normal or quirky, happy or cranky teachers? Are only those physical, demonstrable realities real?
What about, instead, the private, emotionally charged memories that remain, shaped by our need to make sense of it all—refracted by the mind, bent, colored, skewed, yet mythically true? Memories which, by the way, are not that far removed from the purely invented scenarios of Hogwarts—since both exist only in the mind, where we go on imagining all the time, re-creating our version of what “actually” happened or dreaming up what we hope will “actually” occur.
How important for us to keep imagining like this. How important to let the mind do its playful thing—to let it roam, going beyond what the body is experiencing, not limited to the confines of what others impose or what we are afraid to risk, not constrained by the mundane clock-in-clock-out demands of conformity, not reduced to a cog in a wheel of the immense machine of duty, not straitjacketed by our skin or sex, not shackled to the ticking second hand of age.
In the mind’s eye we find not just facts but truth. We find what is meaningful and free. In the mind, even the plainest, most lonely child can have a rich life. In the mind, even the paralytic can run and dive, can fly.