I’m not crazy. I want that on the record now.
I say this because I’m about to tell you something from my past that will probably make me sound it, and that to this point only family and close friends of the family know. Including, out of the handful of people that will read this, people that have known me since I was ten years old.
Eccentric – definitely. That’s how an old housemate once described me. I also freely admit that I talk to myself and figments of my imagination more than the average person, but I’m not crazy.
I asked a psychiatrist about it once, and she quoted the tv show ‘Lost’ to me.
“Crazy people don’t think they’re going crazy, crazy people think they’re getting saner.”
Though I agree that, yes, paradoxically this contradicts my original argument, but at the time I thought I was genuinely going nuts so I think the statement holds.
That’s a story for another time however, and one that I’m not necessarily sure I want in a public medium unless it’s in a book I’ve written that I’m actually getting paid for.
When I was a kid, my favourite toy was a spoon. At some point or another, it changed to a pencil/pen, but for a length period of my childhood it was a spoon.
To me, the spoon was a link to my imagination. Part of this will be hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. I have a vivid imagination. I can enter and fully immerse myself in a world completely created out of my head. I can see it completely play out like a movie. The spoon was simply my way of entering that imagined world.
To an outsider, and a perfectly normal human being, all they saw was a kid moving around the house, or on the front lawn (at the drain beside the house I grew up in generally) moving all around talking to himself, playing out the movie in my head. The epic spanning stories involving my friends at the time battling dragons, battling sentient viruses, winning over the hearts of a girl I had a crush on at the time (my superhero persona, Weird Boy, was created doing this). Some of the stories were simple: climbing a tree that grew as you climbed it, getting a puppy and hiding it in a secret underground chamber under my house. (Most of this was pre-Lentil, Lentil being the dog I got when I was 12) Others were vast complex stories involving a multitude of fictional characters who’s lives and eventual fates I could still tell you to this day.
There was me imagining many stories where me and my friends Jesse Maher, Rachael Simpson, Phoebe Juskevics would be transported to another world where we were the heroes of a small kingdom that fought evil kings, dragons and trolls. When we left the world our bodies there turned to statues until we returned. The magic word to pass to that world? “Seriously deep doo doo.” (hey, I was EIGHT!)
Stories of Me and my friends Steven Hammond and Kirsty Watson and a boyfriend I invented for Kirsty named Daniel Capalony (echoes of Shayne from the future maybe?) hanging at KC’s Virtual Reality Cafe, which actually existed at the time (epic old school canberra reference.) battling villains who’d made it from the virtual reality world into ours.
And yes, when I was 12 I started imagining stories of me as a superhero, Weird Boy, who’s best friends were Pete Dexter and Steven Hammond, and who’s girlfriend was…. someone I’m totally not naming in this blog. But in my book I called her Paige.
And these were just the handful of ones I’m mentioning here. I could spend years telling you about the stories I imagined myself living while dancing around at the drain at the side of my house.
Some people knew. Certainly all of my neighbours. I was that weird kid that danced around the side of his house moving a pencil around in his hands, talking to himself and having vast conversations and acting out elaborate plots with figments of my imagination.
Eventually, at an age far older than you would expect, I stopped doing it because people at school were learning about it and with high school on the horizon the bullies would have more than enough to reason to beat me up already.
The imagination never went away though. If I had a pen in my hand I still had the ability to disappear into that world. Even without the pen. As I matured I realised the whole pen thing was… not normal. Though I guess I always knew but didn’t care because I had fun, it was part of me.
As a teenager and still as an adult my imagination is running and rarely shuts off. Unless completely focusing on a task it is quite easy for my mind to slip into an imagined world. I imagine long conversations with characters I’ve created, some of whom are based on actual people. In fact, I know of at least four people who would be gobsmacked at the hours of conversation I’ve had with an imagined versions of them in my head. There’s a solid chance two of them will even read this. So for that reason alone, I will keep their names a secret. (Though, there’s a solid chance Sare, Cat, Alyce, Stu & Emma would each be able to place one of them… though even if you combined your efforts you’d never figure out one of the unknowns)
I want to be clear on one thing, and this is why I’m not crazy:
I am fully aware on the difference between my imagination and reality. And it’s not like I’m ever disappointed when a person doesn’t react like the imagined version of them in my head – hell, I expect them not to. And I don’t prefer the imagined versions. They’re generally far too sarcastic (they’re products of my imagination remember? I’m essentially having long smart arse responses thrown at me). It’s my coping mechanism. My process of thinking.
If I start having long imagined conversations with an imagined version of girl I fancy, I generally try to put a stop to it (an end to that nasty ‘pedestalling’ that totally destroys any chance you have with a girl).
Describing it as a ‘coping mechanism’ earlier is actually a fairly accurate description of it sometimes. Because there’s one person my brain almost subconsciously conjures up to talk to when I’m conflicted about something.
Which oddly leads me to recently, when I actually tried to not imagine a conversation in my head because I’d realised I was doing it a lot more now I lived alone, and it probably wasn’t normal.
Then life got really difficult, due to changes in my work life I’ve already spoken at length about but I’m not going to return to it now. It was during that time I realised I was trying so hard to not use my standard my coping mechanism. I remember stewing in a world of self hate one Saturday when I was driving to a wedding I was about to perform (more detail on this way back in the one I wrote about my redundancy. Go read it here.) and eventually I thought to myself “Out of all the life changes that are happening my life right now… it would be a lot easier to take if I kept using the coping mechanism that helped me survive this long.”
And so I returned to imagining conversations in my head.
My imagination is one thing that has always been apart of me. Stomping on it and trying not to use it just seems unwise.
Because if I wasn’t my true eccentric, slightly weird self, I don’t think I – and any of my friends and family – would really like I’d be. Because I wouldn’t be me. And being me is something I’m totally cool with. Even if it isn’t normal.
But to quote a favourite scene from an old tv show:
“What’s so great about normal?”
-Max Evans, Roswell, Episode 1.15 “Blind Date”