Imagining good for our brain

It was my life ambition to be a mermaid.
I know what you’re going to ask: how did that turn out? Not well, I must confess. I am not the greatest swimmer and my hair is not long enough to do the mermaid thing properly.
Oh, and my voice doesn’t sound anything like Glynnis Johns.
You don’t know who she is? Miranda. A classic mermaid movie first released in 1948. I wasn’t on the planet in 1948 but like I said, mermaid movies tend to become classics.
I think while growing up, we often imagine a life different from our own; a different name, different hair colour, an only child or a herd of siblings, that sort of thing.
I wanted to live underwater. My underwater home had all the comforts I required: a big easy chair, a huge clam shell to snuggle down into at night for a good sleep, a sea horse, all the usual trappings.
The point is my imagination knew no limits. If a problem arose, I simply imagined my way out of it.
I watched a video of my grandson last week. He was buried in pillows on his mother’s bed and he was imagining. He had a book open on his lap that he was pretending to read while singing into his pretend microphone.
He looked very happy while his mother took the covert film to send to me.
Linden is two so he hasn’t yet succumbed to organized play, team sports, lessons, school. His holiday days are spent imagining. There are no video games consuming his attention. Rather, he is participating in the purest sense of play.
I wish he didn’t have to grow up. I wish he could phone me from his bath mitt (as he is inclined to do) to wish me a Merry Christmas—another video that I will watch daily until I can’t.
I wish he always could perch on the top step of the step stool pulled up to the counter while he stirs pancake batter imagining he is the chef in charge. I wish he never had to go to school, never had to change in any way.
But then I said the same thing when he was days old; when he was snuggled next to my ear while I purred at him, breathing in his perfection.
Imagining is good for our brain, we are told by some in the medical profession. Letting our minds wander is a healthy pastime rather than a curse, and we should embrace it.
“Imagining activates brain regions that can unconsciously map your path to success,” says Dr. Srini Pillay, a Harvard Medical School assistant clinical professor.
I will share this opinion with “my boys” as they grow. Maybe when they are 12 or 29, they will come with me to my mermaid house; will curl up in my clam shell or on my comfy chair.
Maybe we will swim and float and do all the things that mermaids and mermen do. Maybe we will race the dolphins and guide boats away from the rocks.
If only it were so.
wendistewart@live.ca

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