I hate it when it’s dark and my brain goes, “Hey, you know what we haven’t thought about for a while? Monsters!”
The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) is credited with the traditional classification of the five sense organs: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Imagination is the brain’s ability to form images and sensations without the use of these five senses.
A well-developed imagination can be a wonderful and powerful tool when you combine it with positive thinking; anything becomes possible. Man’s imagination is the source of every great invention and every brilliant story… unfortunately it is also the source of every nightmare and anxiety attack. Both good and bad, our imagination influences how we feel from moment to moment.
For some of us, once the sun goes down our brains go into hyper drive in their ability to imagine things. Often this is a good thing with solutions found, problems solved, great inventions and stories evolve… sometimes however a little voice inside our head whispers something about monsters…
From as far back as I can remember I have from time to time been scared of the dark. As a small child my sympathetic parents always left the hall light on until after I had gone to sleep. I have no idea what triggered this irrational fear of the dark but I suspect it originated from a scary dream and was fuelled by an overactive imagination.
My older brother Tom used every opportunity to encourage the development of my overactive imagination as only older siblings can.
When we were about five and seven years old we were given beanbags as a surprise present from our Gran. They arrived in our bedroom unannounced under the cover of darkness one night. In the gloomy predawn light of the following morning I made out two unfamiliar shapes near our wardrobe. One was large and orange and the other was smaller and purple.
While I lay in bed watching these unfamiliar objects Tom whispered to me from his bed, “They’re monsters… I think that orange one ate some of my Matchbox cars.” For a brief moment I believed him (he was seven after all). It was quite a relief to discover shortly afterwards (once the sun had come up), that they were in fact squishy sorts of chairs you could hide under anytime you wanted to watch scary television shows. Don’t ask me how those beanbags protected us from the daleks on Doctor Who but somehow they did.
Fortunately as I grew older I learnt useful techniques for dealing with my intermittent fear of the dark, namely hiding in bed under my doona and wishing I had a snorkel to breathe with. These days I find my most successful technique is to block all scary thoughts once the sun goes down… something I find far easier to do in my 40s than when I was 12.
As Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” …I’m hoping he was referring to cool things; like teleporting a freshly baked croissant from a patisserie in Paris to my kitchen table… as opposed to monsters.