The scholars sat in their circle like some Victorian Men’s Club
of Explorers, though few had done any significant amount of
traveling except through their dusty books and philosophies.
“I recall a monster frozen in the ice of a Mongolian glacier:
half mammal, half lizard, one hundred feet from head to tail,
equipped with teeth like steel doorposts,” said the youngest.
“Did you see it with your own eyes?” asked a second scholar.
“Well, no. Yet I believe that it was quite real to my friend.”
“As real as us?” A third and the oldest scholar questioned him.
“Yes or rather more real because it was evidence of a world
not available to us. Whereas we are only real in our imaginations.”
“Do you also have imaginary friends whom no one else can see?”
“No. I never have had them, not even when I was younger.”
“Then you don’t know what you’re missing,” said the second.
“So, what did you do with your imaginary friends, if I may inquire?”
“Oh, the same thing one would do with the real ones: explore,
play games, have parties, that sort of thing for hours and hours.”
“Were you so isolated then that you had no real friends?”
“Yes, we moved so much as a child, that I had no friends for the longest time. My
imaginary friends had no problems with moving with me from place to place. Real
ones wouldn’t have done that.”
“How about imaginary beasts?” asked a fourth... “Surely along with your
imaginary friends there were other almost seen things which scampered about. Do
you deny these when you profess the other?”
“Yes, I will confess that I had a veritable menagerie of invisible beasts at my beck
and call when I was much younger. Yet they were something a child believes in,
not an older, wiser grownup.
“Are grownups wiser, though?” the first one brought up to get
back to his original topic: the existence of a fabulous beast within
the daily dullness of a mundane and unfulfilling existence.
“Doesn’t imagination count for more than a dusty factual world?” the first scholar
inquired. “Yes, imagination does count, but not at the cost of denying what is
within and constitutes the real world.”
“I believe that the child is smarter than the grownup, then. He or she is still open
to the world, whereas the grownup is isolated by the facts and figures which crowd
out all the teeming possibilities.”
So, when this meeting of the Scholars like most of their discussions which in truth
were their attempts to reclaim their lost childhoods or rather those things which
kept them young of mind and heart.
---Purple Mark 010812
- “I recall a monster that could have done this to armed warriors...it was discovered frozen in the ice of a Mongolian glacier half mammal, half lizard, one hundred feet from head to tail, and equipped with teeth like steel doorposts.” Barry Hughart. Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was. (Del Rey, 1984). page 156.