Living in Other Worlds

I can’t remember a time when I lived only in this world.

Currently, of course, I mentally visit worlds created by others by reading as well as the worlds that have developed in my own mind.  Today I found myself reflecting on my childhood, and I realized that this has always been the case.

Obviously there was a time before I could read, although for me it is lost to the fog that replaces the details of early childhood.  (My mother loves to tell the tale of my indignant reaction to the first library visit in elementary school – “They made us check out a book but didn’t teach us how to read it!”)  The lack of reading skills didn’t prevent me from visiting the realms of imagination, as the adults in my life made sure to read to me often.  As soon as I could read for myself, I was never without a book (or three).

It isn’t just books, though.  The building of worlds has always been a part of my brain as well; as a child, the worlds were often based as much on history as fiction, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.  When I would play outside I would often drag my sled through the grass, crossing the prairie in a covered wagon or questing to the North Pole on a dog sled.  I collected sticks for firewood, turning bushes into my shelter, to survive being lost and alone in the woods.   My own mental adventures started out based on the lives and exploits of others, but they didn’t stay that way for long.  As I got older, this tendency to escape through books or my own imagination only grew.

When it is needed, my brain is fully involved in the real world.  I will, however, take any chance I get to escape to another place.  I can’t imagine life in only one world.

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