I’d say I’m a pretty creative guy, and with a constant head full of ideas for stories (and characters and settings and games and…), I’d also say I’ve benefited from it. So many of the “What if…?” scenarios that have struck me have paid off in stories (etc.) I’m proud of.
The flipside of having a creative brain, though, is that it isn’t all positive ideas. Negative ones can creep in, as well. And paired with that overclocked imagination, they can be distractingly concerning. Sometimes enough so that I need to act on them, no matter how far-fetched the chances are of such an occurrence from actually happening.
A couple of months back, it was my wife’s turn to put our daughter to bed. As happens with both of us when we do so is that, often regardless of how awake we feel when we crawl in to read and snuggle, she fell asleep with our daughter. Meanwhile, I was out in the living room and, as sometimes happens as the day is winding down, I ended up nodding off in the recliner.
Neither of these are normally an issue, of course. We each fall asleep with the kiddo, and things can be worse than falling asleep in the La-Z-Boy.
The problem I had started when I woke up to discover that my wife and I had both fallen asleep with the house’s side door unlocked.
As a bit of background, we live in a nice neighbourhood. It’s not without its occasional crimes–and you want to be sure that your car doors are locked overnight, lest you find your it rifled through the next morning, as has happened a few times to us and neighbours over the decade we’ve lived here–but it’s far better than many other places. So to say the least, the idea of someone just happening to randomly try to get into our house and come across our unlocked side door and then being able to get in and anywhere (up to our loud, squeaky main floor or down the hollow wooden stairs to the basement), without waking anyone, is exceptionally low. Probably nowhere near a full percent. Probably statistically zero.
But, ah… there it is: What if… ?
What if, chances be damned, someone had done that?
The why they would do that is a whole other matter. I don’t know why. This is my imagination running away with me, after all, so the logic of it doesn’t need to play a part at all. But hey, we’ve all heard reports of deeply weird stuff that people do sometimes. The chances of that stuff was almost impossible, as well. And yet…
Suffice to say, if you think that I’d go so far as to grab a flashlight and turn on every light in the basement and then check every nook and cranny where a person could conceivably be hiding–all the time wondering what the hell I would even do if I ever actually did find someone hiding (but again, logic be damned)–before I was able to convince myself that my family was truly safe and I was okay finally going to bed, you’d be right.
This doesn’t happen all the time, thankfully. To the above kind of extent, it’s actually pretty rare. Which is good. I would surely be scared into total inaction if my mind was constantly stressing itself over the darker side of “What if…?” about everything, every day. But make no mistake, that does happen. It just usually gets filed away for potential story fodder.
So yes, I’ve got a well-lubricated imagination. And no, I wouldn’t choose to get rid of it if I had the chance. But it unfortunately does come with a (happily, lesser) downside to its myriad positive aspects.