Building My Own House

I have always been blessed with a bright, colourful and vivid imagination. When I closed my eyes, a new world would come to life that was rich and diverse, fragrant and vibrant. I took my imagination for granted until the day I couldn’t anymore.

These days my inner world is considerably starker as I have lost my ability to visually recall images. I can see a tree for example but when I close my eyes there is no tree present. I can look at my hand but when I close my eyes I see nothing. Although my imagination struggles to erupt in full Technicolor, it hasn’t gone. I can sense it but it simply won’t join up with the rest of me enabling me to make it conscious. This imaginative constipation can sometimes feel overwhelming as I’m fit to burst with ideas I can sense, but not articulate, and I have no way of releasing them.

It’s been a steep and sharp learning curve for me. I didn’t notice my visual recall slowly slipping away, in fact, I didn’t notice it at all until one day in my specialist physiotherapy when I tried to recall an image and I couldn’t (CRPS is a sneaky condition). I’m still hopeful and optimistic that this loss is only a temporary one as I continue to re-train my brain but the prognosis is far from clear. I’m not sure there’s a medical term to diagnose loss of imaginative visualisations but there should be!

So, my imagination is not on tap anymore, not helped by my health problems and I can’t help but feel a sense of deep sadness when I look within and just see a bleak, empty white room looking back at me. However, despite this appearing rather bleak, I’m finding new ways of adapting. That’s how humans evolve: we adapt.

One day in therapy (of the other kind) I was asked to describe the home of my dreams: the home I’d always longed to live in. Initially I came up with nothing at all; it was as though, as well as my imagination, my dreams had been extracted from me as well. I’d always wanted to have my own home built but I felt no connection to this idea at all. I sat there in awkward silence trying desperately to conjure something up out of thin air. Of course, feeling low and living with chronic pain doesn’t help one’s imagination thrive but this was the first time I couldn’t even find a few words to say. Surprising given the fact I’m a lover of verbosity but nothing happened.

Although my initial attempts to build my home drew a blank, as I tried again later in the privacy of my own space, I started to notice a change in me as I slowly began to think of little things I’d want. It was easier to look at some of the details as the bigger picture was out of my reach. Yet this process triggered something even deeper in me as it reconnected me to my longings and my dreams…

A writing room: a room to write, to be inspired, to think, to meditate, to create…

…The space to breathe, to reconnect to the magic of life and to go into the depths of nature…

…To feel the rain on my skin, to feel a true sense of being alive and being a part of life…

I fought the urge to unpick, untangle and over-think and I focused on my breath. My mind slowly quietened and I sat silently in the moment. As I allowed my imagination the room to wiggle and breathe, it started to take flight and soar. Not in images but more of a ‘sense’ of things. I gave this life by breathing into it and letting go to enjoy the ride.

I felt a surge of energy as I contemplated reaching back out into the world and life came and gently held my hand for a while as I felt the joy of the anticipated fulfilment still waiting for me. The moment was fleeting and I returned to the stark white room once again and I couldn’t keep hold of the shredded, incongruent remnants that remained. I tried to stay in the moment and sit with the essence of my dreams but the white room remained and eventually became the fly in the ointment that took me away from the moment.

Perhaps I need to return to the one place where I last felt truly alive: right back into the heart and soul of the Arctic, back into the distilled essence of winter where I felt a true sense of peace and connection. I’m not sure if I’ll be fit enough to travel, once again, into snow filled forests, but it’s a memory that stirs me deeply within as it sends ripples of longing through my soul. Little else does. Well, no that’s not strictly true as the writing and expansion into the world clearly lights me up from within. It therefore seems clear that my imagination doesn’t thrive based on where I am, but on how connected and unified I’m feeling. Inter-connectedness allows me to reach into life and it allows me to start piecing back together the shredded remnants of the imagination I have left.

Of course, my health issues are forever present, and there is a lot to contend with; I have days when it consumes me, but it’s not me. I write, I clearly can still have dreams and aspirations (albeit differently and not as vividly and energetically as before), but, as humans, we evolve and adapt; and I’m finding new ways to dream. I have hope, I haven’t given up and I’m still breathing!

As I returned to the rise and fall of my breath I noticed my breathing catching slightly on each inhalation. It was as though my lungs were expanding into a new crevice of my being and slowly creaking and bending some energy back into me once again. I was reconnecting to life a little more deeply. I may have a way to go before the fires of my imagination are stoked back into life but the idea of ‘building my own house’ has re-ignited the spark within and enabled me to see the bigger picture beyond the four walls of my life…

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