The fine art of pretend


In my previous post, I touched upon the imagination (or the Imagi Nation, as it were – are you of the old blood?!), and went on a tangent about reading and brain magic. It got me thinking about my childhood, and all the time I spent playing with myself…BY myself. BY! I wouldn’t start playing with myself for years yet, so my brain still had the capacity to focus on the important things in life. Namely, the fine art of pretending.

Before my mind would become mired in the great pubescence of the early 90’s, I spent all of my time in two places; the bush, and my brain. While they’re not recorded in my current resume, I have at turns been a secret agent, a viking, a wizard, a famous hockey player, and even a secret-agent-viking-wizard-hockey-player. Needless to say, chronology was never a barrier for a solid game of pretend. When I would don the guise of one of these, or any of the hundreds of other characters I created with brain magic, I was immediately drawn into the world they existed. Much like reading, the physical ceased to matter – I was other, in and of.

While immersed in these pretend (but very real) worlds, it was never a challenge to move through that particular time and space. The trees around me were not the trees surrounding my childhood home, but the equally familiar trees of the lands I would travel. The stick I carried was not a stick at all, but an ancient staff or my trusty sniper rifle. When pointed just so, it would spew forth forgotten magics or bullets in equal turn. It was never a measure of physical steps that marked my journey, but the constant shifting of my perception that allowed my physical form to move through the landscapes in my mind. Is this not true magic?

Often I would include those around me in my pretend adventures…whether they knew it or not. I once built a quinzee in my front yard (for those of you not familiar with snow or snow-related construction; a quinzee is a mound of snow you hollow out, melting the inside with a candle for stability). I did this quietly the night before after a heavy snowfall, placed in such a way that no one would notice it right away upon leaving the house. As an aside; it was truly a mark of the times and the place that I could disappear for hours in the dark of winter, and no one would worry about it – simpler days! The next day I sat in my quinzee for hours, the last survivor of a frontier fortress, holding it without hope against the barbarian hordes until help could arrive. The barbarians were comprised of my two sisters and dog, Buddy, and sometimes my mom when she would come outside to smoke. Little did they know of their own savage natures that day, glorying in the blood of my fallen comrades – their unholy screams still haunt me to this day! Now, I didn’t need their cooperation – or even their approval – for my world to exist. All that was required was my own sense of adventure, and the will to commit to it wholeheartedly. It was real, and even though I took many wounds that day, I defended that fortress with all of the brain magic available to me, and I was fucking victorious.

The fine art of pretending is like any other artistic medium. It requires a keen mind and your own due diligence to exercise and maintain the mental state that allows one to travel the multiverse that is the imagination.  It’s not unlike lucid dreaming, except way harder in my estimation. A lucid dream only happens when you’re asleep and already well into your subconscious. All of the bullshit and nonsense that permeates our lives is already stripped away for us, and we’re left with a framework of possibility. Pretending, however, means that we have to consciously push aside all of the reality that insists on intruding into our world. The noise, the smells, the people. They like to remind us that we’re not a wizards or vikings; that we’re actually helpdesk managers, or waitresses, or parents, and we don’t have time to travel the multiverse.

They’re wrong.

Pretending is one of the greatest losses we experience in our journey to adulthood. A child’s life is completely uncomplicated, and look at the joyous stupor they walk through life in! Pretending is simply an extension of their constant state of discovery – they truly are in a new world for the first time, over and over. It’s an immediacy of being that transcends the need to filter out the noise and worry. They simply are that new world, in and of.

So here I am, typing away, pretending that someone is going to read my words. In this world, you (yes, YOU!) are moved to action by something you’ve read here. You’re going to close your eyes and shed the you that existed before you read this article. You’re going to let your mind wander to a metaphysical space outside of all self-imposed limitation, maybe from a book, an experience, or – better yet – something completely fabricated. Now that you’re there, take a step.

Now take another.

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