The Death of Imaginations

Monday, December 17, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

It is a difficult time to find words.  It is hard to find the space in me where comforting words exist.  And it is even more difficult to imagine those words giving any measure of relief.

am i filled instead, with mental flashes of empathetic terror.  I am sickened for the children, disillusioned to the cruelty of the world at the very moment they departed it.   I think of the wonder that died.  The wide eyes.

When I was in 3rd grade, a student (who we'll call Kevin) decided to take a stand during one of our science lessons.  He insisted that one day, while playing outside, he picked up a worm and it stuck its tongue out at him.  The teacher tried to explain that, because the anatomy of the worm is just one long tube, worms don't need tongues to redirect food because everything that goes in the front end simply gets poops out the back end.  Therefore, worms don't have tongues.  This was 25 years ago, so I can't remember if the teacher went into what a  prostomium is (a tongue-like protrusion  in some worms that is actually used for sensory purposes).

I do remember that Kevin was not ready to drop the subject merely due to a teacher telling him some fact about how worms have no tongue.  He had seen it, and to a 3rd grader, that is truth.  "NO, HE STUCK HIS TONGUE OUT LIKE THIS!" Kevin screamed, as he then repositioned his mouth to show how his very real tongue could jut straight out from between his lips.  The conversation (and i use that word loosely) only degraded from there.  Soon, Kevin was throwing a full blown worm-tongue fueled temper tantrum.  He was crying.  And screaming.  Because in his world, the world he knew and felt safe in, worms have tongues.  And they aren't afraid to use them.

But now, stepping onto the uncertain sea of school peers and adult learning, worms no longer had tongues, and that was an unarguable fact.  Well, more accurately, it was arguable, but that argument sent you to the principal's office.  Tongueless worms crushed Kevin's ability to make sense of his world.   Disillusionment comes in many forms.

I wonder what worlds and animal parts we lost on Friday.  There were sure to be winged walruses and butterfly penguins.  Undoubtably there were untouched and still untapped imaginations.  When you are that young, you still have the superpower of sewing together reality and creativity.

 I can remember that fateful day back in 1990,when my Transformers lined up along the wall where the shag rug met the blue wall.  Opposite them, my M.A.S.K. (Mobile Action Strike Komand?(sic)) drivers sat at the board room table in the power circle, waiting to receive their charged up helmets full of special abilities -- before boarding their own transforming vehicles.  Optimus Prime declared for the Autobots to "TRANSFORM" as they launched an all out assault.  M.A.S.K. was ready for them, however, and split off into various mini-battles.  The action was continuous as mini-battle after mini-battle played out with such epic drama and plastic manipulation as to be far superior to either individual cartoon series.

In the end, it was Voltron (the lion-made Voltron, not the weird car-mad Voltron) who saved the earth from 3 TV shows worth of good-guys.  With all of those heroes battling, i just remember there being a lot of carnage.  Enough of it to make cleaning up almost as fun as the battle itself.   And in my adult mind, this battle still seems fairly real.  Some sort of historic.

The past weekend has similarly felt like a mix of reality and the surreal, except this time the carnage can't be dumped into large Tupperware containers and pushed to the side.  We are all left standing disillusioned together.   Our worms no longer have tongues, and it is world-crushing.  And we stare out at the decimated imaginations, wondering how we got here.  Wondering how things have gone this far.

I wish this piece ended with answers.  Any answers.  How to move forward.  How to make sense of what happened, even in a small way.  I want to tell you where the silver lining is.

But, it is a difficult time to find words.  It is hard to find the space in me where comforting words exist.  And it is even more difficult to imagine those words giving any measure of relief.

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