Sometimes when life seems so very short, it’s a good idea to use a long imagination

Gary Matheny
Posted 7/15/17

Using your imagination is an art; not like the paint brush and easel, but an art in its own form.

Pictures are painted and stories are told, all using images that we either see or simply think up …

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Sometimes when life seems so very short, it’s a good idea to use a long imagination


Using your imagination is an art; not like the paint brush and easel, but an art in its own form.

Pictures are painted and stories are told, all using images that we either see or simply think up in our day-to-day activities.

The imagination uses several parts of the brain.

Visual images from real events seem to creep up from a part of the brain called the occipital lobe to another thing called the parietal lobe; however, imagined images seem to creep down to the occipital lobe from the parietal lobe.

That statement causes me to imagine what it would have been like if I had become a doctor, and that is a frightening image.

The best purveyors of a vivid imagination, of course, are children. Those wee little ones have an imagination that keeps them young.

I remember when my daughter was very young, she and I watched a movie titled “Drop Dead Fred.”

Fred was an imaginary friend to a sweet and innocent little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old.

Now having an imaginary friend is not a bad thing and most people think it is OK for a child to have this little fantasy. However, we older children tend to have those acquaintances too.

We simply don't call them imaginary friends.

You can find us talking to someone when no one is around, but it’s usually me doing all the talking, with no one answering back.

The problem was, Fred seemed to always do things to get the little girl in trouble with her parents. No one seemed to believe her when she tried to explain it was Fred doing the mischief.

As she advanced in years, Fred went away, only to return when her own little girl was born.

I liked the movie, but you must understand we saw that about 35 years ago and I only remembered bits and pieces of the story.

Several years ago I bought a copy and thought I would sit and watch it with my grandchildren, not remembering all the things the movie offered up, so we shelved it till they got a little older.

Not only did that little girl have a vivid imagination, so did the writers of the movie.

Life takes a lot of imagination.

Advertising executives, script writers, novelists and even songwriters need a strong imagination to do their jobs.

As a writer, my imagination goes —as they say — wild on most occasions.

When I write, I like to paint a picture so you, the reader, feel you are in the presence of the thing I am describing.

Recently, I have befriended a man who writes a blog and some short stories and we share our work, on my part for the feedback.

I love reading his short stories because the imagination he has leaves me in awe.

When someone asks how I come up with ideas to write about, I simply tell them I use my devious mind.

Imagine the mind of George Lucas sitting at his desk or wherever he feels comfortable writing, as he envisioned “Star Wars” and the characters, spaceships and galaxies for his movie.

My favorite scene, by the way, is the bar room in the original “Star Wars,” as all the characters mulled around in their intrinsic costumes.

Rod Sterling (“The Twilight Zone”), Alfred Hitchcock and many other writers thrill their audience as they put the scenes in their head on paper and film to entice and thrill the minds of the people watching.

Imaginations are ideas, visions, even goals.

As a young teenage boy, I would sit and listen to my music albums and imagine that one day I would be a famous musician, like the Beatles or maybe even the Monkeys.

I would see myself on stage with thousands of screaming fans, mostly young girls I might add, playing my music, signing autographs and having wild backstage parties after concerts.

However, that didn’t happen. But it was fun to daydream.

But come on, we all have those imagination moments, daydreams, times when we leave the shell we are encompassed in and float to another space and time. To a place no man has ever gone before, as the opening of “Star Trek” would say.

Many may have dreamed of becoming astronauts, actors/actresses, musicians, doctors and lawyers, and some may have even wanted to be an Indian or Chief (you know, the baseball or football team, respectively).

When I was really young, I imagined being a hobo and jumping trains while carrying a stick across my shoulder with my handkerchief bag on one end. Traveling across the country eating beans from a can and sleeping in the empty boxcar.

I did grow up and travel across the country, not jumping trains or eating beans, but flying in airplanes and staying in Marriotts on the company expense account.

I think I really liked doing it that way better.

Life is short and the older I get the shorter it becomes. What used to take a long time, zips by quickly nowadays.

Adults tend to think that daydreams or using our imagination is a waste of productive time. We have to make a living or tend to the children. I don’t have time to waste on unimportant things like my imagination.

Without adult imaginations, the railroad would not have happened in the 1800s. We would still be sending messages by Pony Express. And Bill Gates might probably be doing something so menial that he would face boredom each and every day he went to work.

I still use my imagination. Seriously, just read some of my work — devious mind right?

It is fun to imagine things that might have been or things that still can be.

I like to watch my granddaughters as they use their imaginations and put on what they call a show, where they sing and do impromptu skits that are not thought out, but ingenious. They make up songs and do fashion shows.

The Temptations sang:

“But it was just my imagination once again /

Runnin' away with me /

Tell you it was just my imagination /

Runnin' away with me.”

We need more imaginations running away, because in today’s world we are definitely too serious.

My brain is tired from all this imagining. I need a nap.


(About the writer: Gary Matheny is retired after a long career in the pharmaceutical industry. Because of his love for the East Tennessee mountains, he and his wife left Macon, Ga., to retire in Cleveland. He is a published author and also writes a popular blog titled “Life Happens.” He loves golf, writing, public speaking and serving as a motivational consultant. Email him at and follow him at


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