The holidays were over and I was sitting out on my patio one afternoon enjoying the unexcitingness of it all. I have discovered that unexciting days are a blessing. Days, in which, there is time that needn´t be accounted for and the imagination can blossom. Days, in which, a person can examine the subtleties and intricacies of life and reflect, unobscured by the hustle and bustle.
Dotty, my imaginary wife, was standing at the other end of the patio where the barbecue´s at, and was as lovely an apparition as I have ever seen. She was making a lot of strange hand gestures, which I thought at first, was some kinda sign language, and then, thought maybe it was some sorta tai chi exercise. She had a look of extreme concentration on her face.
“What the hell are you doin´ Dotty?” I asked.
“What does it look like?” she answered.
“Well, I don´t know. I´ve never seen you do that before!”
“Well, then use your imagination!” she said without stopping.
“Can´tcha see I´m washing the dishes?”
“What! I don´t see any dishes!”
“That´s because your not imaginin´ them! Come on! Take a look!”
She was right. I had only been imagining her! Now, I could see a counter and sink full of sudsy water and dishes piled in a rack. “Why are you doin´ that?” I exclaimed.
“Well, I don´t want you gettin´ miffed `cause you do all the housework around here.”
“But, I´m not miffed. I understand perfectly that imaginary people aren´t of the physical realm. You don´t have to wash the dishes!”
Now, she snatched up a towel and started wipin´ them and puttin´ them away in an imaginary cupboard. “Just the same, I don´t wancha to get that way and start unappreciatin´ me.”
“Aw, Dotty! I could never unappreciate you!” But then again, the holidays had been a busy time. There had been a lot of friends visiting here in Barra de Navidad that I hadn´t seen all year, and we´d been celebrating non-stop for a couple of weeks. Maybe, I had been neglecting her a little. I went over and wrapped my arms around her and planted a big kiss on her rose-bud lips.
“How about you and I do something special tonight, something romantic, just the two of us? Charley and Moonbeam can take care of themselves for a couple of hours.” Charley is an inner child of mine and is nine years old and quite capable. Moonbeam is his imaginary dog.
“Whaddya have in mind?” she asked.
“Oh, I don´t know. Maybe a moonlight walk along the beach. We can sit on the beach while the moonbeams flicker around us and see what happens.”
“Are you sure Charlie will be alright? You know how boys are.”
“Sure. Besides, Moonbeam will be here to protect him. That dog can sniff out an imaginary demon from a mile away and he´d bark up such a racket, that none would dare come near.” We live, much of the time, in an imaginary universe which parallels the real one. The Indians called it “The spirit world”, and in it, there are spirits a-plenty. Even in the minds of the most cynical realists, they romp riotously through their dreams as they sleep. Even though they deny their existence, they still influence how they perceive the world. Many people fear the imagination and dreams, and hopelessly try to exclude it all from their daytime thoughts, but they never truly succeed. They believe it to be a place of terror and horror. Or, maybe they just consider it to be too volatile and unpredictable. They don´t seem to know, that it can be a place of beauty and wonder if they want it to be.
“It´s a date!” she said and went back to drying her imaginary dishes. It reminded me, that I needed to wash the real ones, so I went inside the old `71 Landyacht Airstream trailer in which I live, and did just that.
That night, I arose in my sleep and entered the world of dreams. Dotty was already up and was wearin´ a mischievous grin on her face. The night was warm and smellin´ sweet from the winter flowers that grow here, and the moon was high and shinnin´ bright.
Leaving my real body asleep in my bed, we tip-toed towards the door. “Where ya goin´ ?” came a high sweet voice from Charlie´s corner.
“Oh, we´re just goin´ out for awhile to enjoy the moonlight.” Dotty told him. “Do you think you´ll be alright for a couple of hours?”
“Sure. I´m kinda tired `cause we had such a busy day in imaginary school today.” Actually, the denizens of my imagination sleep during the times of my inattention, although, sometimes, they have business of their own in my subconscious, which I know little about. Sometimes, their activities become startlingly apparent, when I least expect it.
The walk from the trailer to the beach is much shorter in this realm that it is in real life. We chose to ignore the mosquitoes this night, so they were not with us. It´s a simple thing to do, once you get the knack of it. We heard an owl, hootin´ in the coconut palms and the crickets, katydids and frogs sang us a serenade as we walked. The fireflies were blinkin´ everywhere to the beat of the song. Soon, we rounded a bend in the path, and there it was, the beautiful ocean, glistening in the moonlight.
Actually, there are many people, even in the frigid north, locked in winter´s grip, that know that these paths to the lovely imaginary tropical beaches are short for them as well. Only a snooze or a daydream away.
The dolphins were leapin´ high in the crystalline sparkles of the waves along the shore, come to greet us in their play. For a few minutes, we watched them as they cavorted in the surf, and then, they invited us to join them.
In an instant, we were among them, dancing in the moonlight on the water. We circled and spun and leapt in ecstatic celebration of our existence in this beautiful universe.
Once the dolphins had left us, we were again, alone, back on the beach. Dotty and I gazed deeply into each other´s eyes, through the sparkles of moon and starlight that were reflected there. We embraced and kissed, each drinking in the essence and love of the other. How sweet it was.
We laid together on a blanket on the sand and held each other close, soaking in the luminous wonder of it all. The little cove was cupping us like the palm of a hand, as we watched the moonbeams and starlights capering mirthfully on the wavelets as far as we could see. They multiplied and grew, and surrounded us, gently touching our hair and faces. Then, they swirled about us and lifted us high into the air. We were transported by the love of all things, places and each other, in overwhelming, rapturous delight.
There are those who might think that the love for an imaginary woman is a form of self love, but let me tell you, love transcends the self, whether imaginary or real. In fact, love is never truly imaginary. It is always real, and the effect is always the same. We leave our mortal egos behind and fly on the wings of angels to heights that are unbound, beyond expectation, beyond imagination or reality, to a better place.
Why is it that so many men and women are afraid of it? What they fear, is the hurt and suffering that comes from a precipitous fall. In reality, the suffering is the result of the lack of love. Actually, not to love is what causes damage to the soul. Love doesn´t need reciprocation, the gift is in the giving. The reward is itself and, if we can avoid blame, criticism and admonishment, need never end.
We rode high into the night sky and neither of us spoke a word, for mere words could never convey what we shared and still shared. We can experience it whenever we visit our friends, family, parents, children and grandchildren, all those we have ever loved, whether in reality, imagination, in thought or remembrance, no matter how far away they are, or whether they are living or have passed on. And we can never fall, as long as we keep the gift of love in our hearts and minds.
Love is a song which reverberates from our center outward and touches the most distant stars. Sometimes it does, indeed come back like an echo and blesses us and the light within us grows. But it can never come back if we don´t put it out there in the first place. Even though it is given, it can never be lost or wasted, whether it comes back or not. All it takes is a kind word or a smile and a little respect for others. Love is not a possession, it´s an act.
When the moon was just about to slip below the distant horizon of the sea, we started for home. The owl was still in the tree, asking it´s plaintive question and the creatures of the night continued to sing. The fireflies lit the way.
Dotty and I held each other in each other´s arms once again, before I returned to my still sleeping body to await the dawn. “It was wonderful!” she told me.
When morning came, I awoke with three words on my lips, “I Love You”, the most magical words in any language, wanting to be told, once again and to never be forgotten. And so, I give these words to you, if you might be so kind as to pass them on.