I am fortunate in that, when the world around me is too harsh to tolerate, often I can retreat into my imagination. I can manufacture another world, a place filled with odd characters and bizarre landscapes; a haven free of violence and fear and worry and hate. My good fortune rests with the fact that I have a loose affiliation with the stars and a kinship with the empty spaces between them.
Often, I can slip into a world void of all the strictly human emotions that demonstrate humankind is a deviant mistake of Nature.
But not always. Not often enough. Too frequently, a clawed hand reaches for me, dragging me out of my sanctuary into the oppressive darkness. While fighting to peel off the fingers of that clawed hand, my imagination sometimes takes me in a different direction, one in which all the horrors I try to escape are magnified a thousand-fold. That’s what madness is; being caught in a swirling pit of terror and hot, wet smoke so thick it wraps around one’s throat like a boa constrictor. A single breath of that fictile soot transforms the lungs into solid hunks of concrete.
How fortunate am I, then, to readily retreat into my imagination? When my asylum can be invaded by the demons from which I flee, where is my good fortune? Is a vivid imagination a protective shield or, instead, a bright guiding beacon for a rabid succubus intent on transforming every shred of serenity in me into strips of razor wire?
Too many questions have no valid answers. Too many “what if” scenarios consist of tainted assumptions wrapped in untold lies. Even in the bright light of this stunning blue-sky- morning, shadows behind tall trees form pockets of darkness. As I watch the morning unfold, it occurs to me that shadows always follow the light. There are no alternate realities; pretense and imaginary circumstances are like magnets for that clawed hand. Perhaps the best approach is one in which reality is faced head-on. Maybe hand-to-hand combat with hatchets and clubs is preferable to dreaming the enemy has magically vaporized into a sweet-smelling mist that spreads happiness with every inhalation.
We can no more control the future than we can control the past. We can influence the future, but we cannot control it. Using our influence is the best we can do to determine the outcome of the present. When my efforts do not achieve the desired results, a brief escape into my imagination is all I can afford. I have to return to reality, wipe the blood off my face, and pick up my hatchet and my club.