Imagination is a force to be reckoned with

I don’t know about other INTPs, but I pride myself to think I have a quite good imagination. So good it has become a double-edged sword. Once again both blessed and cursed.

My imagination is sometimes so terribly vivid it scares me as much as it exhilarates me.

It is a show of force that has a life of its own – despite I wield it more or less intentionally and consciously. On top of that, my highly associative, stream-of-consciousness related thinking does nothing to comprehensively relay the inner workings of my imagination which will probably be illuminated through this very post.

I sometimes think that I’m able to live off the feelings and experiences projected from and onto the characters on screen and on paper; my idols and favorite stories, and that they somewhat substitute or make up for the lack of my own. I’m truly an escapist in every sense when it comes to that – which excites me as much as it worries and frightens me that I need to have this. This world I can escape into via my computer/the Internet (which I’m practically married to) and ‘live’ the lives of someone else or ‘together’ with them like a fly on the wall. It’s wonderful that fiction, art, movies, music and literature can enable a world of imaginative escapism, but I think it’s also dangerous to be completely absorbed by this world; of already lived or fictive lives which are theirs to live, not yours. It frightens me that I need this because it implies that I don’t have a life on my own that is enough; that I don’t experience the feelings and adventures that I apparently so desperately seek or need in real life. I find myself saying that it’s okay that I don’t experience all these things in real life because I’ve got my imagination. And it’s not like I’ve been without adventures in my life; I may just not actively seek them out either, because it is easier to retreat into your mind and conjure them yourself or through fiction. I need to be brave. And yet, as Sidney Poitier once said: “So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness”, and I agree with him. I do not throw myself into life but take what comes, take it step by step; ‘come what may’; ‘whatever will happen will happen’. It may be the poor man’s bravery but, for now, that’s what I got.

Do others feel the same? Do you also immerse yourself in the imaginary world of fiction and your mind and forget to live your life?

Personally, I can immerse myself for days, weeks, even months. I find kindred spirits in long passed authors and their characters and relive and internally debate their thoughts, feelings and observations of the world that parallel or challenge my own. I’ve grown and learned through fiction, films and tales from history as much as I have grown and learned through the present and the people around me – if not more. I have found kinship and mutual appreciation for these realms of escapism through the virtual society of the Internet as so many other (lonely) souls do. I find friends, company and understanding there that I haven’t found in my life – and that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. It’s better than having or doing nothing at all in my view.

I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.

— Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

In my mind I’m living another life almost simultaneously. Like in “(500) Days of Summer” where an alternative fantasy-scenario is presented alongside the real one, I have the tendency to imagine myself living the ‘dream life’ whenever I feel down or unsatisfied with reality. I mean who hasn’t? And it isn’t as if it is that hard to make it happen in real life. I’m not dreaming about unbelievable things, but simple, small things, like going for a walk, talk and laugh with another kindred spirit whomever it may be.

Is it wrong for me to say that I think I know how it feels? That I know how it feels to be in love? I’ve not tried it in real-life, but I’ve tried it through my vivid imagination and I can try it again whenever I want to. I just need to close my eyes, perhaps be in the right setting, with the right kind of music in my ears and the right mindset. With all that I’ve seen and read and with my, at times, highly empathic feelings I’m that conceited to think I know how it feels to be in love, to be completely obsessed with another person, mentally and physically, even though it is all experienced in my mind or through some actor on screen or fictional character on the pages. But who says it isn’t more true just because it happens in my mind? (to quote JK/Dumbledore). Yet, how come feeling the love the two main characters of a movie or book share is enough? Or, at least I trick myself somehow to believe it is enough… That I can somehow live on on their love and not experience my own because I’m afraid of it? Is that why I desperately seek new TV series and movies that can continue confirming that feeling when the other starts to die out and the raw reality hits? I think so. No, I know so. It is – or seems – easier to get under the skin of fictional and/or imaginary characters than real people; to know their innermost thoughts and feelings, because they are irrevocably written down or dynamically projected from your own thoughts and feelings.

But I also think that it is somehow a dangerous path I’m treading: That I’m so engrossed in living a passionately experienced life (let us call it that) through my mind and imagination that I cannot think of anything happening to me in real life without going through it in my mind, that is, only for a second, living the scenario out through my mind (as I imagine how it will unfold), and as I’m prone to afterwards, convincing myself that that was enough; that that gave me the necessary satisfaction I – for a moment – longed for in life. That is, after all, not the way to really live your life, is it? You need real experiences to have real experiences and real feelings, right? The mere thought of someone touching me remotely intimately isn’t repulsive to me; I’m not repulsed by humans or the human touch, yet I just don’t see it happening to me somehow. I’ve relived it through my mind, often in another person’s body or mind, a person with blurred identity and appearance (I guess, a mix of all characters and persons in literature and film that I’ve been attracted to, not necessarily sexually), and I feel my range of empathy is so exercised by now and that the feelings certain fictional characters feel are bestowed upon me with the ghostly electricity of a real life scenario in the same situation. Am I parasitizing these ‘false’ emotions too much and too long to live my own life? Perhaps I am. I just don’t know what to do about it. Or, well, yes, I do, but I don’t know how to break the circle of content, however pathetic that sounds. I want to be brave but I feel helpless. The truth is, I know I want permanency and reliability when real-life is anything but, and I know I can find it in fiction and imagination. I guess the comfort-zone and the good old fear of getting hurt are the usual suspects, yet I can’t help feeling that though I can have a great time with friends or even family, the feeling only exists for so long, and that some good memories – though I try to hold on to them and the people in it – slip further and further into a cloudy distance and exist almost only as past dreams where the factual events of the memory seem to cloud too. I catch myself asking: “Maybe this didn’t even happen? Maybe it was your imagination – your oh-so-talented-and-convincing imagination that tricked you again?” My only hope to restore those certain memories is to ask the people in it how they remembered it, but the problem is, the subject of the memory is often so delicate and subjective, I’m not sure I have the guts to confess how I felt or ask how they felt, if they even remembered any of it… if it was even real. Or that I’m crazy. Anyway, this doesn’t really make sense and it doesn’t really matter. Some of those people are long gone from my life despite of it all, and I don’t think I will ever see them again. Maybe they were meant to disappear so that I wouldn’t have the chance to ask them face to face. Or maybe they will return one day, but I don’t think so.

It all comes down to that imagination of mine again. But how can you cure yourself of this other than by real experience – which you cannot force!? You simply cannot force things like that to happen in my experience (ironically), but then again if you have no experience at all, you’ll have nothing at all. But does it need to be big and grand to fill your life? Apparently that’s what people seek nowadays; excitement and rushes whether it’s forced or initiated, drugs or senses, physically or mentally. I don’t know anymore. I seek something else, maybe the very thing everyone else seek though in their ways – and me.. me in my ways. Which isn’t exciting at all. I seek passively in real life, but actively in an imaginary one. I take one day at the time and soon a whole year has gone and I try to look back to remember significant felt moments, but I don’t remember any feelings except the truly unhappy ones.

Maybe that’s pretty normal; not having the whole adventure package per year/per life. There’re many forms of adventure. Life’s an adventure. Well, that depends on yourself, after all. And I don’t know what I should depend on myself (if that makes any sense). Maybe you shouldn’t know. Maybe you shouldn’t always know or expect what life brings you or what you want from it or what you can give it.

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One thought on “Imagination is a force to be reckoned with

  1. I can completely relate to pretty much this entire post, as I also spend much of my time/energy in living in this other nontangible realm. I can only say that imagination itself is not inherently a bad thing, but it’s up to us to use it for a good purpose. But I know, it’s hard to tell if you are wasting your life or going about things the wrong way because for example, I just spent almost an entire weekend in my room reading, listening to music, and just dreaming in my head – and I stop and think, what has come out of this?

    Liked by 1 person

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