An Exercise in Imagination

Today, as with most days, I asked myself what I want to write about. Sometimes, often in fact, a scary old Bugaboo (a mythic character I made up who also goes by the name Kaigu) appears on the horizon of my awareness and tells me I have nothing to say. Or worse, nothing worth sharing with anybody. Listening to this inner demon is a fatal mistake. That dialogue leads nowhere because we can never get to the origin of self-deprecation. As a screenwriter friend used to say, it’s a Tar Baby. Don’t touch it. Leave it alone. Just carry on.

Okay, good plan. So then now what? The obvious answer is to dive into the imaginal world. We’re talking fiction here, not journalism or reporting the news. It’s better for me not to drag out the rules. I’ve been up to this long enough to trust my instincts. Still, I find I need to remind myself of this fact. I think most creative people (and that’s actually everyone) have to actively summon the courage to allow ourselves to be creative. “Excuses be gone,” Wayne Dyer used to say. Declare it!

I primed my mind with a couple episodes of Top Secret UFO Projects Declassified (a surprisingly good show) and then browsed through a few random pages of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Still there was resistance. It wasn’t until I glanced back at the day’s unfinished “to do” list that I caught a whiff of inspiration. What if I took three inanimate objects from that list and wrote a story about them? It doesn’t have to turn into War & Peace (Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece). Just an extemporaneous tale with a beginning, middle and end.

These kinds of exercises are critical because they help us forge new neurological pathways. Likewise, shutting down a negative program like Bugaboo (aka Kaigu) short circuits an old thought pattern that doesn’t serve us. Do this enough times and you start to experience inner freedom.

So here are my three inanimate objects. These are totally random but they do seem to lend themselves well to a fictional story (which, btw, always correlates in some way to real life).

A large Persian carpet

A rugged sleeping bag

A large Igloo cooler

I knew immediately my story would be an adventure that would take me away from home for at least one night and would entail sleeping out under the stars. It’s been a long time since I’ve done such a wondrous, expansive thing. That’s when I remembered reading that this month (June 2022), 5 planets align in the heavens and are visible to the naked eye. They are: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

According to Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor, these planets only line up this way once every 18 years. So it’s a special astronomical event. Now, as you probably know, the planets have symbolic significance dating back thousands of years. So it is that associations automatically fire in the brain and assist in creating a story.

Update!

Although these five planets may align every 18 years, according to FarmersAlmanac.com they only line up in their order from the sun about every 150 years so we won’t see this again in our lifetimes.

Venus rules feminine energy. Mars rules the masculine. So there is romance in the air. Jupiter is great, good fortune. So it’s a happy tale. Mercury is the messenger. So there will be unexpected news. Saturn sows seeds that bear fruit over time. He’s a tough task master but under his influence we overcome obstacles to achieve success. It’s it fun how ideas just fall into place?

Last night I dreamed I went on a hike in the mountains to trek over a patch of glacial rock. It melted before I could cross and I fell safely into a hidden ravine below. It was a surprisingly beautiful , gentle place. Untouched by others on the well trodden path above me. The stream bed was shallow but wet with pristine glacial waters and surrounded by delicate, light green foliage and wild flowers. What a privilege to have landed here. I began to follow the stream back to the main road…

This too can be part of the story. I’ll see where it takes me.