I’m grateful for an imagination, for the ability to run through reality a thread of fantasy. I like that my present is always infected with blurry fragments of the past and unbound wonderings about the future that keep me sane. My life is less boring and my mind a lot cluttered and circus-like because my inner child is surrounded by mad scientists and historians, philosophers and adventurers whose sole purpose for taking up space inside my brain seems to be to distort and enrich my perspective on everything – to increase my appreciation and awe of the most mundane experiences.
Caesar talks to me on a visit to Manhattan to see my sister-in-law. He asks me how so many people are governed and can’t understand how we’ve turned stone into such shimmering towers. He holds his ears in defense against the constant buzz of the modern city and ducks at the siren shrieks of a passing police car.
Mozart scratches his head on a recent car ride to the grocery store. He stares, head tilted to one side, at the melodies of centuries-dead musicians pouring from the speakers in the door. And he argues with me about whether Nirvana, or any modern music for that matter, is music at all. But as it turns out he’s a closet fan of VanHalen, the David Lee Roth era, and doesn’t know why – and that disturbs us both.
Moses meets Jesus. Jesus meets Luther. Luther meets Spurgeon. They all meet Tammy Fay Baker and Benny Hinn and decide to change the channel. Then we grab some Starbucks at church and debate every nuance of the service until Jesus makes us feel foolish for doing so by simply shaking His head and laughing to Himself at the grape juice passed to Him in a tiny plastic cup. At Cracker Barrel afterwards I try to get the gang’s take on predestination but they’re too fascinated by the singing snowmen and light up nativity scenes in the gift shop to ever give a satisfying answer.
Solomon cleans out the basement with me and marvels at the stuff I throw out and put in the Goodwill sack by the door. He tries on an old velvet jacket, petting its silk lining and fumbling with it’s buttons. He gently holds a discarded scratched CD in his hand and slowly turns it in the sunlight, stunned by it’s other worldly beauty.
A cro-magnon man clutches the arm rest as we take off from Denver. White knuckled and extremely confused he eventually eases his body close enough to the window to peer down through the clouds at the twinkling cityscape. His chest puffs out as his hairy face littered with pretzel crumbs beams with childlike exuberance. He must feel like a god.
I talk to an independent artist after a show and I’m joined by a younger more optimistic and unguarded me. I see my shoulders slumped and my finger nails chewed. I hear the quiver in my voice and spot a bulge in my back pocket – a cassette tape of the three songs of mine my mom likes the most.
My dad once told me around age five, on a grueling trip to see grandparents, that a bored person is a boring person. I second that and add that a bored person has lost perspective. Perspective is recaptured for me by peering at the world through another set of eyes, even if those eyes are imaginary. Anything can become technicolor. The present can become science fiction. The numb modern man can become sensitive again to the wonderful details all around him. And the mundane can be made over. Gratitude and inspiration are just right around the corner then and life is anything but boring.
The trick is to somehow keep listening to the voices in my head, keep nurturing the optimism and whimsy in my brain while parents, therapists, spouses, bosses and responsibilities do their best at times to strap us all down, pour into us a heaping dose of gray reality, brand today and us “average” and shove us in with the rest of the herd.
But Einstein won’t let them take me like that. Not today. He’s got Pythagoras coming by to help me hang some pictures in the bedroom for Becky. After that we’re taking a trip to the zoo with Francis of Assisi and we might take in a little Veggie Tales after nap time and get Walt Disney’s and Rembrandt’s take on the talking cucumber and tomato. Should be anything but an ordinary day.