When you go walking and your iPod is on shuffle and “O Danny Boy” comes on and you start imagining yourself kneeling before the tombstone of your beloved, you know that your imagination is beginning to kick in. But when you start to feel the pain of his imagined loss, start to cry at thinking about what life is like now without him (imagining your tears behind a black veil that smells of moth balls), remembering what he was like when he was young (even though he is still young), his smiles as he walks in the door, his toes that wiggle when he reads, his lyrics he makes up while cooking breakfast, thinking about how all of that is buried with him underneath the frozen earth that you’re imagining he is now under–that’s when imagination crosses the line. That’s when you begin to wonder not only about what is real and what is not, but how you got here, on a dirt trail in some mountain, alone.
“I need to get back to my beloved,” you will decide with all your muscles, having been inspired by imagining this whole world without him. Then you will turn around, sprint down the trail, kicking up dirt and rock, all downhill, which, of course, will make you realize, Wow, I am freakishly fast. And then, when the iPod shuffles again to Gladiator soundtrack “Now we are free,”* you think, “What beloved?” because you are on top of the world, taking off for the sun, away from humans and buildings and concepts like cooking dinner or doing dishes.
This is the problem with imagination; it can be a very confusing and complicating process.