I started a new course at Sketchbook Skool three weeks ago—‘Imagining‘. A couple of days into it and I was already struggling. What I long feared to be the case was actually proving to be true—I have no imagination. Put something in front of me and I can draw it. Give me a topic to research and I can write about it. Put a picture in my head and I can see it. But ask me to come up with something all of my own . . . that’s a whole other story . . .
I have always admired people with vivid imaginations. People who can visualise something in their mind and reproduce it in the real world. William Blake said, “What is now proved was once only imagined” and he was right. All the books, music, movies, art, buildings, science, technology and medical advances we have today—all dreamt up first in someone’s imagination. At only 16 years old Albert Einstein imagined himself riding alongside beam of light to “see” what the effects would be. It’s just as well no-one was relying on me to come up with that notion . . .
Imagine a life without imagination though. That’s not so easy, even for me. What would it be like I wonder, to live without any trace of visual imagination? To be unable to see daydreams. To be unable to conjure up the faces of your friends or family, or visualize scenes and characters in books you are reading? I recently discovered that there are certain people for whom this is the norm. These people have what is known as Aphantasia. They cannot—are physically unable—to summon up mental images—at all. It’s as if their mind’s eye is completely blind. Mmmmm. Perhaps I need to rethink my own self-diagnosis.
As you may have guessed I have never been an airy-fairy, day-dreaming, head-in-the-clouds kind of girl but perhaps that is because I have never really given myself the time or space (or permission) to be so. Maybe I have spent too much time dealing with what is and not enough time thinking about the what could be. I rarely just ‘play’ with my pencils and paints just for the fun of it (it seems a little bit wasteful when there was no end product in sight) and I don’t recall the last time I ever tried to write anything creative like a poem or a short story (possibly not since I was in school—way back in the dark ages.) Perhaps imagination is like a muscle and if it doesn’t get exercised (like a number of my other bits I could name right now, but won’t) it gets flabby and discouraged and refuses to cooperate. Sigh.
Okay then. I have talked about it and thought about it and it doesn’t seem like there is going to be any kind of quick fix (and even I can’t convince myself I suffer from aphantasia—believe me, I’ve tried!) so I guess it is something I am just going to have to work at. So I am going to go back into my SBS classroom now and hunker down and do some of the homework I have been studiously avoiding for the last couple of weeks. (Draw a feeling? How the hell do I draw a feeling? . . . )
I have to start believing that somewhere deep (deep, deep) inside me there must be some little kernel of imagination that I can tap into and begin to draw out little by little.
Wish me luck . . .