The fictional/mythological Merlin is said to have “lived backwards” (it shows up in Le Morte d’Arthur as well as in many other fictional treatments of the Arthurian legend). In essence, he has been portrayed as somehow “remembering the future.” My favorite depiction of Merlin is, of course, seen above – the Bermuda-shorts-wearing, slightly barmy version from Disney’s The Sword In The Stone.
But, it could also easily describe me. I’m sure at some point in my childhood that I used my imagination. I do remember laying on our front porch staring at clouds. But, at some point — and I can’t really pinpoint it — I stopped dreaming, stopped pretending, stopped actively using my imagination.
Oh, when I became a Wiccan, I regained some of it. I kind of had to, because pretty much any spell (or even prayer or working) requires visualization. But, far too often, my visualization was always rather pedestrian.
I suppose that it’s amusing that I say that, because in my 20s, I did things that you would think would require imagination, such as working for the Bristol Renaissance Faire or being part of the S.C.A.
But, I was once asked by a therapist – perhaps a decade or so ago – whether I had any fantasies, sexual or otherwise. And, frankly, I had to give the answer that “no, I didn’t.”
This has since changed. But it didn’t really start changing until I left my ex.
Maybe it’s been part of focusing on art. Maybe it’s been about allowing myself to think about “what if…” without immediately thinking “that’s impossible.” Or maybe it’s just about the fact that my logical mind has been damaged, allowing my more creative/imaginative side to come out.
For a long time, I was far more pragmatic about what was possible. Oh, I did things like think about what would happen if I won the lottery (but mostly, the so-called dreams were things like being able to be debt-free and not having to worry where bill money was going to come from. Let alone what I would need to do to keep certain people in my life from buying everything their little hearts desired).
I’ve stopped limiting my dreams. Unless I am in one of the deeper depths of depression, I even will imagine things without knowing how I would be able to come up with the money to fulfill those dreams.
So, yeah, I feel like I am living backwards. These kinds of dreams tend to be (for most people, I think) things that happen in childhood or young adulthood. When you’re younger, you don’t necessarily know about some of the limits that “responsible” adulthood places on us, or you somehow believe that those limits won’t apply to you.
I don’t remember when I put limits on my daydreams. I kept some variant of idealism, but it was more about social justice (and my ability to effect change), as well as a certain amount of wanting to see the best in people (strangely, while still being suspicious that they would always fail me).
I don’t limit them anymore. I let them happen, without judgement or criticism. Of course, some of that is letting myself develop ideas for my art.
Or maybe I’m just going through a second childhood.