Is an Overactive Imagination Destructive or Invaluable?

Image for postSource: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)

My air pressure warning light came on right as I hit the mountain pass to Tahoe and entered the blizzard. Snow bombarded my windshield and my front tire wobbled. I glanced at my phone-no reception. My mind rapidly painted two fantastical situations for my fate.

The dire one-It?s a blown tire, no one stops to assist me, and I hike for hours in the snow to find help only to die of hypothermia right as one measly AT&T bar comes up. I?m found dead wearing unfashionable clothing with an open bag of corn nuts in my pocket.

The dreamy one- (a younger) Clive Owen pulls over to help me. He is accompanied by a major publishing agent who recognizes me from my writing on Huffington Post. ?Oh but can you write of the human heart,? she?ll drawl and give me a book deal on the spot while Clive changes the tire as the snow pelts his bare chest.

Neither of these happened.

Instead, immersed in my fantasies, I managed the blizzard for the next 10 miles, took the first exit and found a tire shop. A 65 year old attendant named Hank checked the car and put more air in.

?They weren?t that low,? said Hank. ?Not sure how you felt that ?wobble.? The light probably went on because high altitude and the cold makes the sensors extra sensitive. No real cause for alarm.?

I have felt fictitious wobbles my entire life. My overactive imagination is a fundamental part of my identity. And I am not unique?at least 4% of all people suffer from a condition called Fantasy Prone Personality (FPP). And I didn?t fantasize the condition. It?s real folks. Well, at least according to the Fake News site where I first uncovered the diagnosis.

According to Wikipedia (not fake news?) FPP symptoms are:

  1. excellent hypnotic subject
  2. having imaginary friends in childhood
  3. fantasizing often as child
  4. having an actual fantasy identity
  5. experiencing imagined sensations as real
  6. having vivid sensory perceptions
  7. receiving sexual satisfaction without physical stimulation.

With five of the seven symptoms, I am a classic case. Although I still write fun filled stories about my imaginary childhood friend, not all symptoms are happy ones. FPP also torments me, causing me distress over a projected reality that never comes to be. Or it gets me overly excited about a future that will never actually happen. Life in the fantastical lane often leads to great disappointment.

Would a steadier lane be better? My life would sure be calmer. I?d be an easier girlfriend, daughter and colleague if my mind didn?t always spin. I?d never be disappointed because I?d be grounded in the status quo. And I?d never fear catastrophic outcomes based on nothing more than someone using a suspicious intonation when they ask me how I am doing.

Yet I?ve decided to embrace my condition, even if it?s unpredictable. If my mind didn?t span the entire depths of possibility I?d be far less creative and unable to solve problems so quickly. Any time I?m threatened by possible bad news, I instantly come up with 25 plan B?s. When I?m not planning for the worst, I?m hoping for the best. Like being ?discovered? for my slam poetry recitations about my fictitious flat tire.

I?d like to encourage other day dreamers to keep on imagining. It may cause disappointment but it will bring wonder too. FPP makes me a better writer, lover, problem solver and even chef because I am always coming up with the unexpected.

In fact, perhaps FPP isn?t really a condition at all, just the overly sane trying to put us emotional dreamers in a corner, afraid of what our imaginations might inspire us to do.

As my good friend Monica always says ? ?do you want your life to be a merry-go-round or a roller coaster??

Who wants stability? Let?s embrace imagination, ride that ?coaster, and create something others never thought possible!

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. ? Robert Fulghum


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