An Account of the Search for the Source of the Imagination
A Dotty Story by Russell Rosander
I was wonderin´ to myself, “Is not bein´ real a terminal condition?” and then, “blip” , and I was gone.
Once again, I was my real self, sittin´ in my favorite chair in the old ´71 LandYacht, writin´ this story with a smirk on my face. “That´ll teach him! Who does he think he is anyway, tryin´ to take over my reality!”
Then I leaned back and thought of my beloved Dotty, my imaginary wife, and feelin´ a little bit guilty about leavin´ her alone in my imagination, “blip”, I put him back in.
There he was, outside the screen door again, sittin´ on his butt in the dirt with his mouth open, gaspin´ for imaginary air. I opened the screen door and said to him, “Look. I´m sorry I disillusioned you. You ARE me and I am you, but your imaginary and I´m real. Get used to it!”
He looked at me angrily and said, “Same to you buddy!”
I said, “Look. There´s nothin´ to be angry about. There´s another trailer that looks just like this one in the same place. You just came to the wrong door. Look again and you´ll find the right one.”
Then I switched into character mode. “Whew!” I said outloud. I was startin´ to worry where I was goin´ to sleep tonight.” I blinked my eyes and looked again. The figure in the door was gone. I looked around and the garden was a little more vivid and vibrant. I went up and tentatively opened the door and peeked inside. There was Dotty laughin´ her head off.
“You saw all that?” I asked her.
“Yep. Sure did,” she giggled.
“Well why didn´t you say sumpthin´ earlier?”
“What could I say? Would you have believed me?” she asked.
“It´s all so confusin´,” I said “I´ve never been so humiliated in my life. It´s like I´ve been on some humungous ego trip and my bubble just burst.”
“Well, you can take comfort in the fact that real people have a hell-of-a-lot more responsibilities than we do. All in All, it´s a pretty good deal. It´s much more pleasant to be imaginary!”
“And all this time I thought it was me writin´ this story.”
“Well, were never really truly separate from the one´s that imagine us. It´s the same for him I `spect.”
“You mean he´s just part of somebody else´s imagination? He´s not writin´ it either?”
“Quite possibly. As Shakespeare once said, “Life is but a stage.” I ´spect were all just actors in the play of life.”
“Very philosophical. Life´s a wonder, ain´t it?”
Later, after the shock wore off a little, I realized that the revelation was an epiphany. I found myself walkin´ a little lighter on my feet realizing that I was weightless and didn´t have any kinda physical substance. It was an extremely pleasant experience. I was beginning to wonder if thinkin´ of myself as real wasn´t some kinda self-imprisonment. It felt really good to be free.
Sometime later one afternoon, our little family was relaxin´ out on the patio. It was a pleasant day as most days are in this particular imagination. We are blessed that our imaginer is not particularly pessimistic. Some artists are plagued with hellish landscapes and perverse fantasies, like that old artist, Bruegel the Elder and others. Some people´s imaginations are full of frightful and malevolent phantasms that they have no control over. To them, even the most beautiful flower can appear to be some evil specter.
I shuddered at the thought and renewed my thankfulness that our dude was partially sane.
Moonbeam , Charley´s dog was twitchin´ in a dream under the table while Charley, perpetually nine years old, was sittin´ on an upturned bucket in the shade engrossed in a pile of comic books he´d found in the attic of our dude´s brain.
Dotty, sittin´ across from me at the table asked, “Have you ever wondered where all the things in our imagination come from? Some of those ideas seem to just pop up outta nowhere!”
“I wonder about that all the time.” I said. Even when I thought I was real and was writin´ the story I wondered about that.”
“I suppose ya gotta wonder just what the imagination actually is. Ya can´t really put your finger on it, yet everyone knows they´ve got one ´cause they use them all the time.” Dotty said. “And we know the imagination exists ´cause we´re the proof in the puddin´.”
“Scientists have got machines that can take pictures of the brain that show that different places light up when we think or dream or imagine sumpthin´, but that doesn´t explain where the thoughts and ideas come from in the first place.” I told her.
“Well, it seems to me that a person wouldn´t be able to find out unless he or she was inside the mind to search for it.” She said.
“I think your right,” I said. “Those fancy machines can tell that sumpthin´s happening but they can´t tell you what it is. I doubt they´ll ever figure it out from the outside. And have you noticed that sometimes the imagination seems so real that it´s hard to tell the difference?”
“Yep, people believe all kinds of things are real that are actually one-hundred percent imaginary. There was a time when people didn´t differentiate between imaginary and real at all! There are still quite a few that still don´t. ”
“Sorta explains why people have such a hard time agreein´ on anything, considerin´ everybody sees things different through their imaginations .”
“Ya know,” said Dotty, “I´ve got an idea. Don´t ask me where it came from. But, since we live in the imagination, what if we mounted an expedition and go lookin´ for the source. It would be a service to the cause of scientific discovery.”
“´Cept most people see anything that they think has been imagined as something false and unreliable, right up there along side fibbin´. Wouldn´t anything we found in our imagination be different than what other imaginary people found in theirs?”
“Sure, but there would be similarities. Imaginations can´t be all that different from one another. They must all sorta basically work the same way.”
“Where would we start lookin´?” I asked.
“I was thinkin´ that ol´ swamp that Charlie came out of. Remember he said there´s a river on the other side? That could be the river of the imagination considerin´ that´s what it´s in. I´d bet-ya five bucks to one that´s it. We could canoe up it and see where it starts.”
So that´s how our adventure began. We decided to leave the next mornin´ in our imaginary canoe. As a totally imaginary person I was now free to do whatever I wanted without the constraints of reality!
Havin´ developed a love of writin´ durin´ the period of my dissolutionment, I decided to write an account of the journey in the tradition of the great explorers such as Lewis and Clark and Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who discovered where the source of the Nile wasn´t. It was actually discovered by John Speke in 1858 as Lake Victoria Nyanze above Ripon Falls. There are still people who dispute it because there are so many tributaries it´s hard to tell. The annals (Is that spelled annals or anals?) of Stanley´s journeys are still enjoyed by many today. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” When I told Dotty about it, she said, “Ya know, It seems to me that he was actually lookin´ for the source of the imagination since at the time there were so many myths about unknown places like that, ´cept that he was lookin´ in the wrong realm and all he found was more physical places.” I will also attempt to draw a map for future reference, however that might not work out. Everybody´s imagination prob´ly laid out different anyway. Also, even though north, east, south and west are totally imaginary terms, they generally apply only to the physical universe. In the imagination they have no bearin´.
And so we begin……
Sir Henry Morton Stanley
who did not discover the source of the Nile.
“Nous verrons çe que nous verrons.”
– We shall see what we shall see.
The First Day
The next mornin´ we got up early and headed down towards the swamp. Imaginary expeditions don´t require much preparation. For example, eatin´ is optional in the imagination because we don´t have physical bodies. We only do it for pleasure and not for maintenance. We didn´t need to hire bearers either ´cause we didn´t have anythin´ to bear. We chose travel by canoe ´cause it´s a colorful mode of transportation. We coulda just as easily sprouted imaginary wings and flew up the river the way the crow flies, but we didn´t. We wanted to experience the whole shebang just like Stanley did.
We shoved the canoe into the murky water and while we were pushin´ a mosquito made and unfortunate turn and flew up my nose. I started sneezin´ violently at once.
“Really, wog,” Dotty said. “We outta try to disturb nature here as little as possible. This is a voyage of discovery, not conquest. We want to leave the natives unharmed.!”
“I, I, I´d…AH..CHOO!…like to leave.. ACH..CHOOOOO!…..myself unharmed as little as possible too! Sniffle, sniffle.
We found the poor hapless mosquito dead and grotesquely disfigured in a glob of snot on the handle of one of the paddles. Dotty carefully scraped it off with a dead cattail leaf and set it on the water for a sorta Viking funeral. We all saluted as it drifted away. “You really ought to be more careful!” Dotty told me.
“But I…..” I started to protest.
“It´s your imagination Dude. You can either make it lovely or horrid!” Charley was standin´ next to her. His entire body was shakin´ as he was tryin´ to stifle a laugh. Moonbeam was grinnin´ as usual.
We all climbed into the canoe and shoved off. I was hopin´ that that little episode wasn´t some kinda portent for the future. Stanley, I recalled, suffered all kinds of adversity on his journey. However, expeditions in the imagination tend to be much less arduous, at least I hoped so, but here we had barely started and we´d already had our first disastrous mishap.
We paddled off into the unknown. The vast uncharted regions of the imagination lay before us. It soon became apparent that we weren´t getting´ anywhere. All we were accomplishin´ was to push water behind us while we stayed in the same place. It seems the water weeds were so thick here we couldn´t go forward. We backpaddled a little until we saw an openin´. Sumpthin´ had passed that way before us, prob´ly one of those huge amphibians known as crocodiles that feed on ideas in these parts. Considerin´ that imaginary people are ideas themselves, this was makin´ me quite nervous.
“Hopefully,” Dotty said noticin´ my state, “Since these lazy creatures feed mostly on undeveloped and faulty ideas and we´re pretty well formed, maybe they´ll leave us alone.”
The word “mostly” didn´t comfort me. “An exception establishes the rule of things unexpected,” as the old sayin´ goes. I figured we were gonna have to stay on our toes and keep our eyes peeled if we wanted to get through this swamp without getting´ eaten alive.
“On the other hand,” Dotty said, “since this is your imagination, I suppose you get to choose what happens. You aren´t feelin´ murderous today are you?”
So easy to forget how often we just get caught up in the flow of what´s happenin´ and forget to make choices that could change the outcome. I would have to pay special attention here and try to keep a positive outlook. “I ´spose your safe for the moment,” I told her.
As the day wore on, we never even caught a glimpse of one of those fearsome beasts. I surmise that it was because I had kept repeatin´ a sorta visual mantra where I imagined them to be cute little cuddly toys in a row like you see at carnivals. I usually avoid visualizin´ such insipid things, but I actually smiled every time I saw a bit of cattail fluff.
Soon, the excitement of our departure diminished and we were all lulled by the rhythmic strokin´ of our paddles until each of us was lost in daydreams. Our reverie was suddenly interrupted by a great flappin´ of wings as a huge bird, about the size of “Rodan” in that old Japanese horror movie, flew up outta the reeds in front of us. It scared us half to death!
“This is how the unexpected happens! Vigilance! Vigilance!” I thought as we watched the ordinary heron fly across the swamp and disappear.
Dotty and Charley had been noticin´ all the strange globular shapes of the stuff that was floatin´ in the water. They were tryin´ to see shapes that were recognizable in them the way dreamers do lookin´ at clouds. This has always been a stimulatin´ and pleasin´ activity that the imagination thoroughly enjoyed. Most imaginary people know that if we please her, she will please us. She is, in fact, the imaginary equivalent of Mother earth. The imagination mirrors the real world in many ways.
“Ya know Charley,” Dotty said, “either my imagination is failin´ me or there´s sumthin´ wrong with these blobs.”
“I don´t think it´s your imagination,” he told her, “These blobs are the remains of ideas that were so poorly formed in the first place and so cock-eyed, we can´t make anything outta them.
“That makes sense,” I said, “I think most people have got about a million of those floatin´ around their brain. I´ve always wondered where they ended up.”
“Do you ´spose this swamp is really a sorta big filter?” I asked Dotty.
“Yep. And I ´spect a lotta good ideas end up here too,” she said.
“Why would good ideas end up here?” I asked.
“Lotta reasons,” she said, “Maybe our dude was asleep at the wheel when they come along and they never got a chance to spark up the old noggin. Or maybe he was just too busy to notice ´ em. Maybe they got misunderstood and rejected ´cause they were too far out. Humans are terribly wasteful.”
“It´s sorta like a graveyard, isn´t it?” I asked, “A graveyard for ideas. No wonder so few people ever come here.”
“Yep,” Dotty answered, “I´ll be a little happy to get outta here myself. The stench alone is enough to deter most people. But ya know, It´s kinda pretty too, in it´s own way. I´m glad we came this way. I´ll bet imaginary anthropologists and archeologists would have a hey-day in here. They love to poke around in old garbage heaps lookin´ for clues to the past.”
It was mid afternoon when the reeds and swamp weed thinned out and we found ourselves in open water. We discovered we were in an oxbow of the river where a lotta stuff that drifted down it naturally got stuck in the still waters of the swamp.
“It´s more beautiful than I ever imagined,” gushed Dotty. “My mother told me about it once when I was little, but seein´ is believin´!”
The river was unlike any river I´d ever seen. The water sparkled in iridescent rainbow colors. Beneath the surface, we could see the shapes of unformed ideas, some connected to each other in geometric patterns of nearly whole concepts driftin´ down stream. These had colors of their own, in deeper shade such as when you wet a stone.
“Don´t some ideas start out whole?” I asked Dotty.
“Nope, never. I sometimes wonder if ideas are ever complete. We just sorta string `em together until sumpthin´ makes sense to us. Completeness is just another imaginary concept, a pattern in which we connect the pieces into a circle or some other form in which we see sumpthin´ we think we recognize. Sumpthin´ that sort of resonates deep within us that we consider the truth. It´s like when a string on a guitar is tuned to a certain note vibrates when the same note is struck on another string. Some people call it `intuition´. Artists, writers, musicians, creative people of all types and of course women use it all the time.”
“Women! Isn´t that a little sexist?” I said.
“I only say that because a lot more men don´t recognize it than women.” She said.
I wasn´t goin´ to argue the point.
Across the river were fields of wildflowers, many that I had never seen before, and widely space trees covered with the chartreuse buds of leaves in springtime. Some were already in full blossom adding to the colorful splendor of the scene.
“Luckily,” I said as I took it all in, “that self-righteous egotistical jerk back in the `real´ trailer isn´t here to dampen my enjoyment of all this wonder!”
Suddenly, the water began to shake and frothy spumes shot up in a hundred places across the river. We all grabbed onto the gunwales of the canoe and held on for dear life. It seemed as though the sky itself was quakin´.
Then an eerie, raucous laughter filled the air striking me straight in the face like a gale. From no volition of my own, I started laughin´ uncontrollably too, so hard tears started formin´ in my eyes.
It stopped as abruptly as it had began leavin´ me dumbstruck and out of breath. Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam were starin´ at me like I was some kinda apparition.
“What the heck was that!” asked Charley.
“It was nothin´,” I told him between deep gulpin´ breaths. “I just forgot for a moment whose head we were in.”
“Sheesh!” said Charley, “He sure must have a weird head.”
We decided to call it a day and make camp on the other side of the river where we could see Charley´s old bicycle leanin´ up against a tree near the bank. We beached the canoe and started to explore the spot, curious if there were any clues to be found as to where Charley had come from. He didn´t remember a thing from before he´d parked the bike there.
We found no path leading to the spot. The old bike itself was now just a rustin´ hulk. We finally gave up on it. Maybe we would find sumpthin´ up-river that would clear up the mystery.
Charley and I set up our tent and conjured up a picnic table while Dotty wandered out into the field to pick a bunch of wildflowers for a centerpiece. Soon the imaginary sun was goin´ down…in the direction of your choice.
Dotty retrieved a picnic basket from the canoe and soon we were munchin´ down on a buncha delicious sandwiches and potato salad. Our imaginary appetites were peaked after all the paddlin´ we´d done that day.
We built a campfire and and sat crosslegged around it as darkness closed in. We sat starin´ into the fire as our musin´s danced in the flames and we made up stories and shared them with one another.
When we all grew too sleepy to hear another one, we crawled into our sleepin´ bags. Moonbeam curled up on the foot of Charley´s and we bid each other goodnight and laid there wonderin´ what the next day would bring until we each drifted off to sleep.
“Qui fácit per álium per se.”
-“He who does through others, does through himself”
The next mornin´ we rose and shined with the dawn. We were eager to be on our way to see what new wonders awaited us.
We emerged from our tent only to be greeted by shock and dismay. Our camp had been invaded while we slept.
“Some watchdog you are Moonbeam.” I said frownin´ at the dog. “Aren´t ya supposed to bark or sumpthin´ when sumpthin´ like this is goin´ on?”´ The dog put his tail between his legs and his chin dropped to his front paws.
“Can´t ya see he´s remorseful?” said Charley defendin´ him. “He was keepin´ me company all night. It ain´t his fault!”
“Imps,” said Dotty with a look of disgust on her face. “Look at this mess!”
All our stuff had been rearranged. Nothin´ was in the same place as we had left it the night before. Even the campfire had been moved and our tent was on the opposite side of the tree from where we had pitched it.
“How´d they do that without wakin´ us?” I asked.
“I guess we must be pretty sound sleepers,” Dotty said.
We found the paddles at opposite ends of our camp site. The pots and pans were up in the tree and the path down to the river now led into the bushes and disappeared. “In the imagination, no reliance can be placed on appearance.” Dotty said.
“What do imps look like anyway?” Charley asked.
“I imagine like mischievous little monkeys with red spear shaped tails and horns on top of their grinnin´ little faces, but in reality they look like ordinary people.” Dotty told him, “and I don´t imagine we´ve seen the last of `em either now that they know were here. They like nothin´ better than to mix everythin´ up and cause confusion. If we think sumpthin´ belongs in one place, they put it in another when no one´s lookin´, just to mess with us.”
“We must have a lot of `em around the trailer,” I said. “I´m always lookin´ for things I thought I misplaced. I always thought it was just my own forgetfulness. I always thought imps were just imaginary.”
“Of course they are! Where do you think you are? Reality?” Dotty said.
“Oh yeah, I forgot for a minute.” I said. “You say the ones in reality look like ordinary people?”
“Yep,” she told me. “There seems to be a lotta people in reality that like to stir up trouble. All kinds of spoilsports. Sometimes they do serve a purpose, but mostly it´s just mischief. Humans seldom question their beliefs until things go haywire. When ideas that have always worked quit workin´, it´s usually because some imp threw a monkey wrench into the works. If they never did it, people would just keep on believin´ wacky ideas no matter how goofy they were, and never look for better ways of thinkin´.”
That brought to mind my attitude towards my real self. Why was I envious of him when I lived in this delightful and interestin´ imagination and he was confined to the cold cruel world. It just didn´t make any sense.
We gathered our stuff together and broke camp. We found our picnic basket behind a rock, now empty. It seems the rascals had eaten the rest of our food, but Dotty reached in anyway and lo and behold, came out with the makin´s of a breakfast. It mostly consisted of sweets since nutrition isn´t a consideration here in the imagination and eatin´ is done purely for pleasure. The delightful meal greatly restored our spirits and we were soon ready to be on our way.
We pointed our canoe upstream and started paddlin´ again. The current wasn´t strong here and we glided along with ease.
The river was flowin´ from between two smooth hills covered with low growin´ wildflowers that looked like two enormous thighs. They spread out to knobbed peaks that looked like knees. “The birth canal of ideas of the great mother imagination!” said Dotty. “I suppose we all came down that way ourselves before we developed memories.” I immediately thought of Charley.
Once we reached the crotch of the hills, we passed through an arched tunnel and the river narrowed and became swifter. We found that by usin´ the eddies which flow upstream along the shore, we were able to rest between times when there was no choice but to buck the mainstream.
We were now in a canyon where there was greater play of light and shadow. We saw that the water had a luminosity of it´s own, gleamin´ colorfully when it passed through a patch of shade. Hundreds of birds were singing in the trees along the shore providin´ a pleasant background music to our journey. It was almost like bein´ in a movie.
After a few hours, we reached a confluence where three rivers met to become the one we had been traveling on. In the center of the confluence was an island. It was covered with vegetation, the likes of which we had never seen before. There was a small beach on the down river side which we headed for.
Strangely, as we paddled towards it, it seemed to be rushing towards us, increasing rapidly in size. It seemed like we arrived at the beach no sooner that we had pointed our canoe at it.
Once on shore, we were amazed by the trees and plants which sped through their life cycles as if in time lapse photography. Trees went though their seasonal changes in the blink of an eye. Other plants sprouted, grew, blossomed and withered in a time span of minutes, as if time itself had sped up to an incredible rate.
As we stood on the shore watching this rapid transformation, it seemed that we and the ground we stood on were the only constants here. The effect was dizzying, somewhat like standin´ in the center of a merry-go-round. When we tried to step forward, each of us staggered and nearly stumbled. It took a few minutes to regain our orientation by looking away from the ever changing plants.
In the center of the island was a mountain. We could see a clear path spiralin´ around it up to the peak. Our curiosity led us towards it. We gingerly stepped onto it and found it stable. We feared that anyone unlucky enough to step off of it would begin to age rapidly and turn to dust along with the undulating life that grew there. We decided to go up it, in fact it seemed as if some invisible force was beckoning us to the top.
Our assent was amazingly rapid. It was if gravity were pulling up upward instead of down. At the peak the spinning of time ceased and everything around us came to a standstill. We each experienced a calmness more profound than any of us had ever felt before. None of our ordinary anxieties and afflictions were present here. There was a warm glow that seemed to emanate from beneath our feet and spread upward envelopin´ us in a feeling of almost overwhelming well being.
We could see out in every direction, the splendid panorama of the imagination. Below us we could see the path winding down to the little beach and our canoe and could look beyond to the multicolored river we had traveled up flowing away from us.
In the opposite direction, was a grotto in which there was a beautiful waterfall tumbling out of an enormous lake which brought to mind pictures I had seen of Lake Victoria and Ripon Falls in the heart of Africa. It seemed appropriate that our river of the imagination should appear to be so similar to the Nile which flowed from the birthplace of mankind believed to be some seven million years ago. The difference bein´, that the birth of ideas doesn´t just happen once, but continuously in the present. We surmised that the huge lake must be the lake of memories, a major tributary to our river.
As we faced the grotto, there was another great river to our left. This river was remarkable for it´s ordinariness. This was the strongest of the three tributaries. It´s water was the same green water of most rivers. The vegetation which grew on the shore and the slopes leading up from the river, was all familiar. Plants and trees I had known through out my life. From this high vantage point, we could see that it circled around some hills and connected again with the river below at another place on the side of our swamp. The two rivers merged again to flow on down to the sea of consciousness. It entered the sea through the lagoon behind our beloved imaginary Barra de Navidad.
The most unusual thing about this river was that it seemed to flow both ways at once. We assumed that this was the river that connected the imagination with reality.
To our right was another fabulous river. This one was very strange indeed. It was wild and frothy. It´s waters were the most colorful of the three. Fiery reds and bright yellows tumbled together with dark purples and cheerful sky blues. It cascaded down a steep canyon in turbulent rapids that crashed and spewed high above huge boulders. Up the river, dark storm clouds hovered above it. We could see the lightnin´ and hear the thunder from here. There were breaks in the clouds through which streamed beautiful golden sunbeams which burst with the intensity of the sun when they touched the water below.
This would have to be the river of emotions down which flowed the entire spectrum of feelin´s. The sunbeams we surmised must be pure love.
While the others were still gazin´ at the amazing vista, I walked over to the very center of the peak and sat down lotus style and closed my eyes. I wanted to contemplate what I had seen, but what appeared in my mind´s eye surprised me.
There were both trailers superimposed on each other. I saw the real me come out of his door and look up look up into the sky. Then he said, “You know you really are a part of me. Through you is the only way I could embark on this journey to discover the source of the imagination. You are my eyes and ears there. I couldn´t get to where you are going from here in reality without you. I´m dependin´ on you.” And then it all disappeared.
Startled, I opened my eyes and I was filled with pride. Even if I wasn´t the person who was writin´ the story, I was the one livin´ it, which was even better.
I stood up, full of renewed vigor. I turned to Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam and said, “Well guys, I guess it´s about time we headed down the hill. It´ll be gettin´ dark soon.”
The way down the hill more difficult and slower than comin´ up. Now, we had to fight that upwards gravity. It seemed more like climbin´ than decendin´. Also, the spiral path seemed to be growin´ longer as it spiraled outward. It seemed to me, that if we had stayed at the peak any longer, we might have never made it back to the beach and the canoe.
Once we got there, we made camp in the last of the light. We were all so tired that we didn´t stay up around the campfire for long, just long enough to discuss which course we would follow in the mornin´.
We decided that we would try for the lake of memory. The river of reality only circled back home and was already familiar to us and the river of emotion seemed too wild and was likely impassable.
Soon we were in our beds sawin´ logs like all good adventurers after a long and eventful day, dreamin´ on the morn´.
“Of all our memories none are more precious
than those of whom we have loved.”
I was the last to awake the next day. The walk, if you can call it that, down the mountain against the force of upward gravity plum tuckered me out. I might not have made it if not for the fact that our host delusionally imagines himself as being twenty five years younger than he actually is.
Dotty was already up busy conjurin´ up our breakfast while Charley was lookin´ for sticks to throw for Moonbeam. He wasn´t havin´ much luck. It seemed they turned to dust as soon as he reached for one just as quickly as others fell from the trees that had ended their life cycle moments before.
Dotty was just comin´ up from the canoe with a basket fulla fresh fried donuts and sweet rolls as well as a small bag of dog food for Moonbeam when the dog started barkin´ his head off.
We turned towards the source of the commotion and saw Charley peerin´ into a pile of rocks while Moonbeam bared his teeth and growled at it. Charley yelled us over to take a look. When we arrived hurriedly and peeked into the pile, there cowerin´ in a nitch was one of the sorriest and depraved creatures I have ever seen. It was an imp.
The little devil was scrunched back up against some rocks as far away from us as he could get jabbin´ a little rubber toy pitchfork at us while his horns twitched in fear. “Get back! Get back! You´ll never find it! I won´t let you!” it kept repeatin´ in a little squeaky voice.
The pathetic little rascal was so pitiful lookin´ holdin´ that silly pitchfork that we didn´t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Don´t worry, we won´t hurt you,” Dotty cooed.
The imp looked warily, jerkin´ it´s little head this way and that vyin´ us one at a time. “You´ll never find it! You won´t, you won´t, you won´t!”
“Find what?” Dotty asked.
“The source of course. I know what you want! It´s mine. Mine, mine, mine! You just want to steal it for yourselves!”
“No we don´t,” said Charley, squattin´ down to the imp´s level. “we´re not stealers. We never steal stuff. We just want to find it and look at it.”
“Hah! You think I´d believe you? I don´t trust anybody. Everybody wants it for themselves! You´re no different!” he cried.
“Who´s everybody?” I asked.
“All the other imps of course, and I don´t like any of them. Not one little bit!”
“But we´re not imps.” I told him.
“Your not? Then what are you?”
“We´re imaginary humans on an expedition explorin´ the imagination. We´re here as representatives of our benefactor, a human in the real world that this imagination belongs to.” I said.
“EEEEEEEK!” he shrieked, “He doesn´t own it! I do! This is my imagination! Mine, mine, mine, mine!”
“Wait a minute,” I said, “We´re not here to take it away from you. We´re just curious to see where it comes from.”
“Curiosity! Ha ha ha! Curiosity! Now you´ve got me! Ha ha ha!
“This is startin´ to look like a Pandora moment.” Commented Dotty.
“Look,” I said to the imp. “We´re sorry our dog bothered you. Now we´ll just be on our way.”
“Oh no you don´t!” he screeched, “You´re not gettin´ off this island without me!” Then he turned and pulled our paddles from out behind a rock.
“Hey! Those are our paddles!” Charlie yelled. “Give `em back to us!”
“Not unless you take me with you! I´ve been marooned on this island for months. Left here to die like a…….,” he looked at Charley, “….RAT!”
“Why were you marooned?” I asked. “Who did it?”
“The other imps. Just ´cause I want it all for myself just like they do. I was tryin´ to keep them from getting´ it first and they tricked me and went off and left me here. This is a terrible place. The fruit from these trees goes bad so fast you don´t have time to eat it. Say, are those donuts I smell?”
“Yep,” said Dotty “We were about to eat `em for breakfast. Do you want some? There´s more than enough.”
“Well I might give you these paddles for some of those.”
“Deal!” Dotty said.
“….but you still have to take me with you!”
“Well all right,” Dotty told him, “Which shore would you prefer to be left off on? There appear to be several around here.”
“Same one your goin´ to of course.”
“Well if we take you there, you can´t follow us.” Charley said.
“Oh no! No, no, no, no! I´d never do that.”
“Do you promise?”
“Oh sure. I always promise,” he said.
“Well all right then, you can come with us.”
After breakfast, the little imp ate most of the donuts, we all climbed into the canoe and shoved off.
We paddled away from the island and after a few strokes, I looked back. Miraculously, the island was now a long ways behind us. “How odd.” I thought. “That time and space act so different here.” We turned our canoe around and headed back upstream choosin´ to pass the island on the side of the river of reality. The waters spewing from the river of emotions looked frighteningly turbulent.
As we were passing the mouth of the river of reality, we saw our first human in the imagination. He was waving to us from the shore. As we came closer, I was surprised to see that it was none other than me! I felt an urge to talk to him, to make sure past misunderstandings had been cleared up but the nearer we came, the two way current became trickier to navigate. Finally, we gave up and from the shore I waved us on. Soon I had disappeared in the distance behind us.
The little imp insisted on riding in the bow on top of Moonbeam´s head. He looked somewhat like a figurehead on the prow of a Viking ship.
Soon, we entered the mouth of the grotto. The thunderous roar of the waterfall drowned out all conversation. The little imp started jumping up and down on top of Moonbeam´s head causin´ his eyes to roll and his tongue to hang out even farther than usual. He was frantically pointing to a stone landing we couldn´t see from on top of the mountain. There was a switchback path leading up the grotto wall goin´ all the way to the top. From here we could see a stone outcropping extending out in front of the lip of the falls.
We headed for the dock. I leaned over and spoke directly into Dotty´s ear so she could hear over the din of the falls. “You know,” I said, “I´ve been thinkin´. I don´t think it´s a good idea to leave the imp here with the canoe. He might decide to swipe it and leave us stranded here. We might never be able to get home.”
“I guess we´ll have to take him with us,” she said.
We tied our canoe to the iron rings embedded in the stone and went up the steps to the top of the quay. Once we were all standing on dry ground, the imp was deviously eyein´ us and the canoe. “We´ve changed our minds,” I told him. “We want you to come along with us.”
He started jumpin´ up and down with glee. “Goody, goody, goody, yes, yes! I go where you go!”
Dotty whispered in my ear, “You know, he acts an awful lot like an extremely immature child.”
The trail up the side of the grotto would have terrified anyone with a fear of heights. One misstep would result in an undignified plunge into the roiling water below. Personally, I´ve never seen the appeal of extreme high divin´ and I´d just as soon never try it.
We insisted that the little imp take the lead to keep him from scamperin´ back down the trail and stealin´ our canoe, but he seemed more than happy with the arrangement. I suppose it appealed to his not so little ego. “I the leader! I lead the exhibition!” he shouted as a scampered ahead of us. We went up one switchback after another, passin´ dozens of beautiful rainbows in the mists of the falls until we reached the top.
Here the trail forked. To the left, we could see that it led out onto the promontory facing the waterfall. To the right, it led to a little stone hut a short distance away, surrounded by a beautiful garden.
We decided first to crawl out on to the overhang, slick with water from the mist, to check out the view.
We crawled out onto the protruding rock gingerly on our hands and knees because it was so slick with mist. Moonbeam, of course, is always in four-paw drive. When we reached the end we timidly stood up facin´ the waterfall. It´s always amazed me how difficult it is to stand on a precipice. Our sense of balance is no different there than in other places, yet it feels different and far less steady. From here we could see a small cove back a ways from the mouth where children were playing in bathin´ suits. Dotty handed me a pair of binoculars outta nowhere. I messed with the little knob in the center until the children came into focus. “My God!” I shouted. “It´s me!” There I was, no more than nine or ten years old along with my little brothers.
Then the pit fell outta the bottom of my stomach as I watched then run and jump into the water. I saw their heads bobbin´ along in the rapidly speeding current towards the lip of the falls. I saw their screamin´ faces as they plunged over the edge and disappeared. My legs became wobbly and I felt both unable to stand or sit down. I dropped the binoculars and peered over the edge of the precipice. At first I could see only the foamin´ spume rising from the bottom, but then I saw them, swimmin´ out of the spray towards the landin´.
They climbed out of the water and up the steps and took off runnin´ and yellin´ full of excitement up the dangerous switchback path up the face of the rock, arms and feet flyin´ without a care for their own safety. Soon we saw them pass the fork in the trail we had turned off on and disappear. A few moments later, they were back in the cove, apparently ready to do it all over again.
“That was insane!” I said to Dotty.
“You must have been a pretty wild little rascal back then to pull a stunt like that,” she said. “Why on earth did you do it?”
“Stunt? Do it? I never……I remember slidin´ down a little waterfall over some smooth rocks when I was a kid but I never…..”
“Story musta grown in the tellin´. A lotta memories change like that,” she said.
“But…” I started to say.
“Hey! That was cool! Can I try it?” Charley asked interuptin´.
“Whaaaa…..?” I started to ask.
“We´ll see,” Dotty said “If we ever get near that spot.” Dotty and I looked at each other nervously.
Then the imp, who I´d forgotten about completely started laughin´ and jumpin´ up and down on the rock. “He, he, he, HE! I knew it! I gotcha! I saw! And you said you weren´t an imp!”
“But I never…..” I didn´t finish. The imp continued jumpin´ up and down even harder, shriekin´ with laughter. Then I heard a “chink” through the noise of the falls and a slight tremble. “I think we otta get off this thing!”
Dotty led me down the unstable rock followed by the others. As soon as we were all on solid ground, there was a rumble and a loud “CRACK!” and the rock tumbled into the chasm. Half a second later, a plume of water shot up and came down on our heads.
We sat on the grass a ways from the edge with our clothes steamin´ in the warm sunshine. The imp was solemnly quiet after seein´ the rock fall. Moonbeam and Charley went over to the edge and reported that our canoe was unharmed and still floatin´ peacefully next to the dock.
After a while, when we were a little dryer and had somewhat gathered our wits about us, Dotty took my arm, I was still feelin´ a little dizzy, and we headed down the trail towards the little hut.
As got nearer, we saw an old man workin´ in his garden outside. He straightened up to a half-stoop and waved at us, callin´ out, “Wonderful! Wonderful! You´re here!”
He smiled from ear to ear as we approached. “I´m sorry Judith isn´t here to greet you as well, but she´s out pickin´ berries for some pies she was hopin´ to bake before you got here.”
“You knew we were comin´?” I asked.
“Of course. We follow everything you do…And you must be Dotty and Charley! I´ve been wantin´ an opportunity to thank you for takin´ such good care of our boy!” He looked down disdainfully at the imp, “I normally don´t let the likes of him in the house, but come on inside and have a cup of tea. It´ll warm you after that plunge you took. The kids love it, but we older people don´t care for it much.”
“Well the rock went down, but we weren´t on it, dang it.” Said Charley. “It was our imps fault.”
“Oh that dang thing falls off all the time. It always grows back though. Everything is alive here in the imagination. The imp huh? It usually is their fault.”
“How come you don´t like imps?” Charley asked. Apparently, he was becomin´ fond of the imp.
“First of all, ya can never trust `em. Second, they´re always rearrangin´ the plants in my garden.”
“We like `em in different places!” the imp piped up.
“Yes,” the old man said to the imp. “So you can distract me from my other duties at the waterfall.” He turned to us. “I´m the gatekeeper here.”
“Do you decide which ideas get to go down the river?” Dotty asked.
“Oh no! My job is to keep the flow goin´. These little rascals are always tryin´ to plug up the falls with their junk. If I didn´t clean it out on a regular basis, pretty soon it´d get so clogged I´d never get it unplugged. That´s when you get Alzheimer’s. Little blockages are just ordinary forgetfulness.”
“We don´t want those ideas to get out of the lake!” the little imp started to rant. “They´re ours. You have no right to let `em go!”
“And why not!” the old man said to him, “Memories are meant to be remembered, not locked up here! And actually, they´re not yours, they´re his.” He pointed at me. “Besides, they always come back unless they´re not good anymore and have been spoiled by the likes of you!”
“HIS!” the imp screamed, “They´re not his! They´re mine! Mine, mine, mine!” The imp was throwin´ a tantrum on the floor.
“Maybe we should but him back outside for a while so we can visit in peace. It´s been such a long time.” Then he pushed the imp out the door screamin´ and yellin´ all the way and closed it. We could still hear him but only half as loud now.
“Whew!” the old man said. “They are a trial. I think if I had to listen to him repeatin´ his nonsense for one more minute, my head would explode.”
“You say those are all my memories in the lake?”
“Around it too. Well, of course they´re your memories, this is your head. Of course you always were good at sharin´. Don´t you remember me? You didn´t get amnesia fallin´ down into the grotto with that rock, did you?”
“We got off just in time. You know, you do seem a little familiar.”
“I´m not really surprised. You couldn´t have been more that four or five when I passed on, and I don´t get down the river to the sea of consciousness much anymore at my age. I just turned a hundred and thirty-five you know! But Judith and me have always kept tabs on ya. One of the nice things about livin´ in the memory is that you get to meet all the new memories as they come along.”
“Are you my grandpop?” I asked
“One and the same. I knew you´d catch on sooner or later.”
“I hardly remember you,” I said. “Mostly from the stories grandma told me when I was a kid.”
“Ah yes, she should be home soon with the berries.”
A few minutes later, the back door opened and there she was, with a bucket in each hand. “You´re here!” she cried then put down the buckets and ran over to give me a kiss and a hug.
She turned to my grandpop. “You didn´t let that little imp outside in here did you? They´re as bad as the ants. Your always bringin´ in strays.
I let out a laugh as a memory flooded over me of my grandmother, who always fried up a batch of homemade donuts when ever we came over. She always served them to us on a children´s tea set she´d had since she was a little girl. It was wonderful to have an adult in your life that knew how to play with children. She told us a story about my grandpop one day about how she was always catchin´ him feedin´ the ants sugar on her kitchen counter.”
“He kept sayin´ that they wouldn´ta come in if they weren´t hungry,” said my grandma. She always did seem to be able to read my mind. Then I wondered if she had really just said that out loud or was it just in my memory of a long time ago. Then I smiled at the realization of where I was. “How wonderful it would be,” I thought, “If more adults today would relate stories of love and kindness to the children that are truthful, so many aren´t, in their lives so that those good concepts might take hold in their lives and make them better people.
“The imp is with us,” Charley told my grandma. “He´s a lotta trouble but he´s our friend.”
“I see,” my grandma told him approvingly. “Then there´s hope for him after all. Some of them grow out of their foolish selfishness or are taught a better way to be. Your grandpop has rehabilitated several of `em. They´re usually the way they are because their parents never grew past that stage themselves. It´s so unfortunate. A lot of them have never heard a good story except on TV or in a movie and those aren´t always the best examples.”
“Have you by any chance seen my Mother here? I sure do miss her since she died.” I asked.
“Oh of course! Your dad´s here too! They come over all the time to visit. I´m sure they´d love to see you on your way back from your quest when you have more time,” my grandma said.
That brought me back to the present. “Grandpops, Do you happen to know anything about the source of the imagination?”
“Well,” he said, “Actually, there´s more than one. Some of it comes from our interaction with reality on a daily basis. As you saw at the confluence, that river flows both ways. It´s the connection between the sea of consciousness and everything else in here.
Then there´s the river of emotions. That give color to all our thoughts and ideas.
The memory, where we are now, is where much of the substance of ideas come from. We wouldn´t be able to talk or think without memory. Nothing would make sense either ´cause because we´d have nothin´ to form the concepts out of that we need to understand anything.
Actually, the imagination is not limitless as some people think. It can only draw from what it has to work with, with what´s here. Reality, memory and emotion. The imagination is really the whole mind and has the same limitations that all minds have.”
“But do you know where everything starts out?” I asked.
“There is one more source. It´s just a stream that enters the confluence from behind the waterfall so you can´t see it. And it´s not exactly water that flows in it, but light. The true light that illuminates everything, the spark that sparks the imagination and all life. That´s where true originality comes from. Everything else is re-cycled.”
“Where does it start from?” I asked.
“It seems to come from deep inside your mind, but that´s an illusion. Actually, it comes from outside your mind. You have to go outside your head to get there.”
“How does a person get outside his own mind? Do you mean go crazy” I asked.
“Crazy? No, anything but. I know of only one route. Judith and I have visited it many times. It´s a path that goes outside both reality and the imagination.”
“How do we get there?”
“You follow the path out back of the hut. It goes high up into the mountains to a special peak. That peak is the hightest of all. At the top is a spring, but no ordinary spring. It doesn´t seep out of the ground, it seeps into it and it comes from above. When you get there, if you look up, you´ll see it. Next to it is a door. If you knock on that door, an old lady will come and open it for you.”
We decided to set out for it at first light in the mornin´.
Soon the pies were done and grandma served us on her best china. It was more delicious than any I ever remembered. Charley took a small piece out to the imp. We didn´t want him to get anymore greedy than he already was.
“Oh, one more thing,” my grandfather said before we headed for bed.
“The old lady is not fond of imps. She might not let you up if your little friend is with you. It seems they´re always trying to poison the spring with their vile ideas that contaminate everything else. Imps don´t like originality or illumination because it exposes all their deceptions. You can leave him here. ”
“Won´t he be an awful lot of trouble for you?”
“Don´t worry about me. I rather enjoy tryin´ to reform ´em, and you´ve already gotten a pretty good start with him.”
My grandma said, “It´s just like back in the great depression. He was always takin´ in tramps he found out in the alley behind the house. He´d let ´em use the bathroom to clean up and invite them to dinner with the family even though we didn´t have much ourselves.”
This was another story I remembered from long ago. Hearin´ it again made me love these two old people even more.
“Am I so foolish as to dream of a world which possibly can never be? If so, I do not apologize.”
In the mornin´ we slipped out the back door. Grandpop had already wished us good fortune on our journey. He had taken the imp with him earlier to go and look for pretty wild plants to transplant into his garden, just as he had loved to do in life. He had promised the imp that he could choose where they were to be planted. This had appealed to the rascal and he´d gone along eagerly.
My grandma was there to see us off. She gave us a basket containin´ two of the pies she had baked the night before. “The old lady loves my pies,” she said. “be sure to save one for her.” Then she hugged and kissed us all goodbye and we were off.
The way here was much steeper and we had to stop and rest often. Sometimes we stopped at beautiful vista overlookin´ the lake and others on the other side of the mountain where even more mountains seem to extend forever.
The trail led over a pass and we went deeper into the wilderness. Sometimes we saw animals, some I had never seen before and others were familiar. There were many deer and occasionally, rabbits would scamper along with us showin´ no fear. Sometimes they went right up to Moonbeam and touched noses as if makin´ friends. Apparently, few humans or dogs had ever been here.
Soon we were ascendin´ another mountain. This one was higher than the rest and steeper. The path was a mere goat trail. I wondered how my grandparents had managed it in their old age. We passed many small streams and these all flowed uphill instead of down.
The higher we went, the more the vegetation thinned out and the air became more rarified. With every turn the mountain seemed to grow higher. I remembered the peak on the island in the confluence and wondered if we would ever get to the top. Or if this path, going down would lengthen continuously trapping us in the in-between forever. I didn´t voice my worry to Dotty and Charley, but I wondered if they were feelin´ the same forebodin´.
By mid-afternoon, we could finally see the summit. There were patches of snow here meltin´ in the shadowy spots and crocuses were bloomin´ on the side of the trail. We were breathin´ the purest air we had ever breathed in our lives.
The peak was a spire shaped crag and we now had to really climb in places where there was no trail at all.
When we reached the top, we stood on a point only a few yards across. The view was incredible. There were mountains as far as you could see in every direction. Some were shrouded by clouds while others shown in the sun like this one.
After takin´ in the view for a few moments, we looked up. There was the wall floatin´ above us, layin´ few feet above our heads. It was transparent, like a ceiling made of glass stones. In the center was a spiralin´ steam of light leadin´ from a nipple down to a cairn made of crystals of many colors. The light was pulsatin´ and burst where it touched the tip of the cairn then fell and spread weavin´ about the crystals and finally disappearin´ in the center. The whole scene had a feelin´ of magic about it.
To one side of the cairn, was a glass ladder that led up to a door that was darker than the wall as if tinted so we couldn´t see through it.
In tentatively climbed the ladder testin´ the strength of the rungs while my lovin´ companions looked on. At the top, I rapped on the door and was about to rap again when a voice that sounded like the tinklin´ of bells asked, “Who´s in there?”
“Doncha mean out there?” Charley asked.
“Nope. I mean in there. This is out here, you´re in there. Who are you?” the voice said.
“We´re explorers,” I said, “lookin´ for the source of the imagination.”
“Well, the source of everything is out here,” she said. “Wait a minute while I find the right key and I´ll let you out.”
We heard a rattle and then she said, “You might wanna……Ooops!” The door fell open wackin´ me on the head. I saw stars, went dizzy and fell.
When I came to, Dotty, Charley, Moonbeam and the old lady were standin´ over me. They were all swimmin´ into focus. “Sorry `bout that,” the old lady said, “It slipped.”
I felt a knot growin´ on top of my head. “Help me up,” I said.
“Are you alright?” Dotty asked me as they all pulled me to my feet. I grabbed onto the glass ladder to steady myself and told them, “I think so. I don´t think anything´s broken. I´m just a little stunned is all.”
“Do you think you can make it up the ladder?” the old lady asked.
“I think so and I slowly started back up.
Surprisingly, all my aches and dizziness vanished as I pulled my self through the door, but that wasn´t the only surprise. The floor wasn´t where I expected it to be. It was if everything tilted forty-five degrees. As soon as I was all the way through, everything righted. When I turned around and faced the door I saw the old lady walk through with Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam behind her.
“Things are on a different plane out here,” the old lady said as she closed the door. Suddenly, we were engulfed in utter darkness. When our eyes adjusted we could see by the light of a thin spiral of pulsating light that spiraled from the nothingness above to the center of the wall which was now opaque. I stood now as a monolith surrounded by, well, more nothingness. What had first seemed to be a floor was actually just nothingness. “How can nothin´ be somethin´?,” I thought.
“It takes a little gettin´ used to,” the old lady told us. “But we´ll be up in my studio soon and you´ll be more comfortable there.”
“Where is it?” Dotty asked.
“It isn´t anywhere. In fact, there isn´t any anywhere out here at all, but I´ll take you. Come over towards the light. Just touch the spiral and it´ll take you there.”
And so we did. We were spinnin´ through space up the spiral of light and then we stopped.
“Here we are,” the old lady said.
We looked around. It was an artist´s studio, but it had no walls, floor or ceilin´. It too was surrounded by nothingness. There were tables and easels everywhere. The tables were filled with unfinished sculptures and the easels held unfinished paintings. All the images were abstract. They looked, in fact, much like the shapes and forms of the ideas and concepts we had seen in the river of the imagination.
“Who are you?” I asked, “What is this place?”
“Well, actually, it isn´t really a place. It only looks like one to you so you can perceive it. We´re actually in pure nothingness. None of us are here. In fact, at the moment, none of us are anywhere. But everything comes from nothingness originally,” she told us. “I´m the connection between nothingness and everything. This is where all creation begins and ends.”
“Are you an artist?” Charley asked.
“Hah! Well Charley, I just sorta help all the new ideas get to the light so they can flow into the imagination below.”
“Well who makes all this stuff then. It´s really cool!” Charley said.
“It just comes out of nothingness,” she said. “And nothin´ is nothin´ until it becomes sumpthin´. Nothingness is infinite and inconceivable to us, so who knows. We can only imagine. Mankind has come up with several versions durin´ it´s history. Every now and then I get confused about who´s makin´ this stuff upmyself. Sometimes it seems like I´m the one making it up, but I know it isn´t”
“Well that certainly rang a bell.” I thought.
“I don´t really have a name, but you can call me….let´s see….how about Estrella. That one sounds pretty nice. I already know who you are. You´ve all been here before.”
Glad to meet you Estrella,” I said.
“Oh,” said Dotty, “By the way. Judith gave us this pie to give you. Actually there are two, but maybe we can eat them together later.”
“I love Judith´s pies,” she said. “Her and her husband will be comin´ here to live someday, but for now, they prefer to live in the imaginations of the people who are still living that they´ve loved. As long as there are people who remember them fondly, there´s no reason for them to return to nothingness. If more people knew how this worked, I think more would conduct their lives differently. They would know how important others are to them and behave less selfishly and spend more time cultivatin´ love. We all need the help of others sometime. But alas, we all make mistakes. It´s usually the imps in our heads that cause them.”
“They´re my grandparents. They were heroes of mine.” I said proudly.
“Yes I know,” she said.
We looked at her in amazement as she seemed to become more luminous each moment. “Well, let me put the pies in my kitchen and then I´ll take you to the source.
When she returned from he kitchen, Charley asked her a question. “Estrella, do you know who my parents are?”
“Actually, I do,” she said, “They were two imps that were too immature to care for you, so one of my assistants took you down the river of imagination after she had given you the gift of love so you could find the folks you live with now. We were sure they would take you in. I´ve heard reports that they are takin´ pretty good care of you.”
“They are,” Charley agreed. “I really love them a lot, but where are my real parents now?”
“Oh, those two! They lead one of the bands of imps that keep tryin´ to poison the spring with their bad ideas” she said with disgust. “Did you know that you were once an imp yourself? We helped you grow out of your selfishness and now you’re a fine young man. We´re so proud of you!”
Charley beamed and smiled at the praise.
“Well, come along now,” she said, and led us over to the spiral of light.
We touched it again and found ourselves in a city in which, like the studio, no walls. Just the outlines of buildin´s floatin´ in space on yet another plane. It seemed to me that we must be totally upside down by now. We´d tilted again as we entered, but perhaps there was no up and down in this strange realm.
In the center was a plaza with a beautiful fountain in the center. It was incredibly beautiful, sparkling colored light flowed from it which rose up and fell in undulating plumes of spray to the pool below. There were several luminous beings goin´ to an fro carryin´ jugs which they filled there.
“Those are my assistants,” Estrella told us. They´re healers among other things. The light from the fountain is what makes healin´ possible. I suppose some people would call them angels. They do other things to help mankind as well, helpin´ them in many ways without bein´ seen. Your grandparents volunteer here sometimes. They´ve brought you some of your best ideas while you slept and cooled your fevers many times. The water, or light they carry is the life force that flows through all living things. Sometimes when people get sick, they need a little extra creation to get them over the hump.”
“Creation heals?” I asked.
“Of course, and teaches too. Haven´t you noticed?”
“Well, I suppose I have. I just never thought of it that way. I suppose it´s not really about recognition, praise, fame or fortune at all. Is that the spring?”
“No but it comes from there. The spring itself is cloaked in ordinariness to protect it from imps. This place is easier to defend. We try to get all the bad ideas out that they put in, but some always slip through before we catch on that the imps have been here. A few more get caught in the filtration system that you call the swamp, but some get to the sea of consciousness anyway. Now, let me take you to the source.”
We walked a short ways out of the city on an invisible path that she seemed to know. It it amazed us how some nothingness became almost substantial to support us when we needed it. I supposed that it was just some kinda trick of the mind that made it seem so, but then considerin´ we´re imaginary and have no weight…I wonder if real people would just fall right through! We followed her up invisible stairs up through the darkness of nothin´. Soon we came to a place that was not solid, you could see right through it, and it seemed like there was something there. We could make out an ordinary lookin´ pile of stones with ordinary lookin´ water flowing out of ´em in to a pool with ordinary lookin´ grass growin´ around it. She invited us to sit on the grass with her. It was like an oasis in the middle of nothingness. “This is such a peaceful spot,” she said. “Sometimes I sit up here for hours, just enjoying being away from all the flamboyance and spectacle of everythingness.”
“It looks so ordinary! It doesn´t seem special at all,” Dotty said as she sat down.
“It´s the ordinary things in life that are truly special,” she told her. “Now that you´ve seen it, maybe you can help others appreciate those kinds of things a little bit more in your own world.”
After a bit, she suggested that we go back to her kitchen and have some pie.
We ate both pies and loved every bite, thankin´ my grandmother in our heads numerous times. When we were done, Estrella invited us to spend the night. “Not that there is either night or day in this realm, but it would be night where your goin´ and I wouldn´t wanchya to get lost in the dark when you got there.”
It was strange sleepin´ in beds that weren´t really there, just outlines floatin´ in space, but we slept well. Soon the blankness of nothingness merged with the blankness of deep sleep. I don´t suppose we had ever slept better in our whole lives.
Day 5 Epiloge
“Stories are meant to be told, not hoarded away where no one can hear them.”
After we woke up, we thanked Estrella for her hospitality and said our goodbyes. She hugged us all and led us once again to the spiral of light.
We spun through space and soon found ourselves back in the realm of the imagination in the mouth of a cave behind the veil of the waterfall that flowed into the river. We could see the faint trickle of light seeping from the back of the cave out to the mouth and mix with the churning water at the bottom of the falls. We walked through the mist around the edge of the grotto to the dock and the trail that let up the wall. We went up it and were soon back at my grandparents hut. The little imp ran out to meet us hugging Charley around the knees. He had changed. He had shed his tail and one of his horns had fallen off. The other was just danglin´ there. The silly rubber pitchfork was gone too.
Out of the hut a stream of people ran out to greet us, all anxious to hear about our adventures. There was my father and mother, just as I remembered them from my childhood and numerous friends and lovers from throughout my life and all my heroes as well. They are the one´s that provided me with the most important lessons in life, my teachers. In fact, all of my fondest memories were present. There are, of course, bad memories here too, but my grandfather has taught me that we should try not to allow them to prevent us from becomin´ better people.
We spent the next two days visitin´ with them re-tellin´ our story dozens of times, but eventually it was time for us to leave. We said goodbyes to everyone and promised to return soon and headed down the path to the bottom of the grotto and the canoe.
As we paddled away downstream I thought of one more person I knew was anxiously waitin´ to hear our story so he could write it down, sittin´ at a table in an old trailer near a little town by the sea in Mexico.
Did we actually find the source of the imagination? Well, who knows. This particular imagination is prob´ly a bit different than everybody elses after all, each contains different memories and ideas. For instance some people might see the imagination as a field to be cultivated, planted and nurtured so it will bear beautiful flowers, fruit and seed. It´s up to each of us to create our own personal mythologies, our own creation myths, and share them as well to help others with theirs.
But we did follow the river up to where it disappeared into nothingness. What´s beyond that, we may never know. It seems to me, that life would be a lot less interestin´ if there wasn´t at least one more thing yet to be discovered. The best stories, after all, never end.