I first became aware of my 'affliction' around the age of 6, in church of all places. Picture the scene; packed church, everyone in their Sunday best, visiting cleric in the pulpit, old pipes sighing and shifting, heat so stifling that the feather on the hat of the lady in front of me was drooping. I was trying to concentrate on the sermon, I really was, but my mind was drifting and I was thinking, 'What if someone passes out in all this heat - how would we ever get them out? What if the organ started playing by itself? What if people wilted in the heat like flowers? What if the roof opened up and a crowd of angels drifted in, bringing glasses of ice-cold Coke to revive us all?' I could almost see each of those things happening in front of me, could almost taste the Coke and hear the clinking of ice-cubes in the holy glasses.
Children use their imaginations all the time - during play, during day-dreams, whilst a parent is reading a story to them. They do it unconsciously and without embarrassment - some for longer than others - and most people expect that children will eventually 'grow out' of using fantasy worlds, pretend friends and beliefs in dragons, fairies, goblins and the like as they become more self-sufficient and learn more about how the real world works.
I have never grown out of using my imagination and I really never want to be cured of it. How awful to be stuck in a queue and not be able to imagine the people in it starting to boogie, being zombies in disguise, or the guy in front of me turning out to be Channing Tatum ( a recurring theme for some reason!). Thankfully the importance of children hanging on to this ability is being recognised; how can a child study history - events and eras that they were never a part of - unless they use their imagination? How else can they learn to invest in their future selves if they are unable to imagine how they want their future to turn out? What about those children who will one day invent ways for us to correct the mess that we have made of our planet? Those who will find cures for disease, those who will write books, create TV shows and fabulous movies that entertain or educate - all of these start with the wonderful affliction of an active imagination.