I still had an imaginary friend in College, his name is Fazaar. He is a six-foot-tall osprey that drinks too much and is a cynical bastard.
Imaginary friends are kind of a misnomer, actually, they’re real. Everything is real- ghosts, leprechauns, Narnia, sparkly vampire teens… all of it exists. Descartes once theorized cogito ergo sum, which was really weird since he’s French and that’s Latin. I would go even weirder and say cogito ergo est. I think, therefore it is. Every fiction you envision brings to life a new Alternate Reality.
Have you ever daydreamed about a world of talking animals? Spaceships and robots? Hell, how about your own life as a lottery-winning, power-lifting, world-traveling sexual conquistador? Congratulations, you’ve given birth to a fully-functioning reality. Here’s your cigar.
I actually got this idea from Fazaar. When you’ve had an invisible friend long enough that he’s still with you during high school philosophy classes, you’re bound to start asking for a bit of biographical data. A child’s mind has neither the storage nor the desire for concrete details (like seriously, how does Dora fit all that shit into her backpack anyway?), but the adult mind requires more. It’s like we grownups are hard-wired to test a reality and either accept it or reject it based on its similarity to our own.
Case in point: You needed the Mr. DNA explanation to follow Jurassic Park, but all your kid gave a shit about was an island full of dinosaurs.
Assume for the moment that anything you create in your mind you create in reality, just not this reality.
This bird, Fazaar, came from a world very real despite its genesis inside my head; I created his reality and everything in it. No, I’m not God- I wouldn’t want His job, WAAAAY too much responsibility, but the job is very similar. Just like a JPEG loses detail if you compress it again and again, my worlds are far less elaborate than God’s. If Fazaar has any imaginary friends, I’d wager that their world is even simpler than the bird’s.
What you get are subsidiary realities that can be infinitely deep, limited only by the set of details funneling downward from the top. If this world is the Crayola factory, then my job as a creator is to pass as many crayons down the line as I can to make Fazaar’s world more colorful. A few more links down the chain and reality becomes the 6-crayon sampler you get with the kiddie menu at Applebee’s.
Of course, this means that God’s probably got colors I’ve never seen before. What happens if a creation looks upward into the reality of the Creator and sees something that simply doesn’t exist down the chain? Madness. Genius. Inspiration. Weird colors that have to be explained using only the crayons that are native to this reality. Do you honestly think the book of Revelation is really talking about guys on horses and angels with bowls? This is shit we just can’t comprehend, explained through the filter of our native reality.
And, for the record, don’t ask me if there’s a reality above God. That’s one of those “unless He tells us, there’s no way to find out” kind of things.
The Responsibilities of Creation
So now I’ve got an English-speaking, ale-guzzling bird to look after. Hell, I can barely keep up with my cat. Do I need to daydream constantly in order to feed him, employ him, and make his life interesting? What happens when I stop thinking about him for a while? If I forget about him, does he die?
Deep breath. Calm down, it’s not like having children. The responsibilities of this reality don’t always apply downstream. Ethics are a tricky subject when you’re the one writing the rule book, so I won’t elaborate beyond this: how you treat your realities speaks volumes about your own psychology. No pressure.
In all seriousness, though, I believe that our creations live happy and/or miserable lives with or without our direct intervention. If you want to pretend you’re God for a moment, then answer this: Are you the fatalist who believes our Creator chooses your breakfast cereal and which panties you pull out of the dresser in the morning, or are you the nihilist who looks at our Creator like a deadbeat dad who gave us life and was never heard from again? Or are you somewhere in between?
Have you ever started a project, abandoned it, then came back months or years later with a brilliant idea to make it better? Managing your realities is kinda the same way- inspiration, incubation, intervention. Your creations can live easily enough in your subconscious and, with enough time, may just surprise you when you come back to them. Maybe you left them as a lonely steampunk outpost and came back to find a multi-national airship-powered federation.
Or maybe they’ve just been on pause. Remember: this is your reality, you control time.
So rest easy, create frequently, and don’t be afraid to talk to your creations and expand the level of detail that comprises their world. Next time I’ll cover a much more fun topic: Inviting Others Into Your Reality.
Images by Megan Giles and 52 Kitchen Adventures