I just got a boarding pass to go on a mission to Mars. I am not kidding; you too can get one by visiting the NASA website and submitting a request. The flight is scheduled to leave in 2026 and because of my age and the fact that I am not the equivalent of astronaut John Glenn, only my boarding pass will be on that flight. But after months of being grounded from travel and flying a small plane due to the pandemic, I desperately need an adventure, even if only one in my mind. I am well into this daydream because I already feel like I am a resident of the International Space Station every time I have to use Zoom to see a patient or talk to a friend.
I have imagined my way through many difficulties throughout my life by pretending a different outcome or scenario. I can recall doing this even as a young child through the arts and play and with the encouragement of my parents to see beyond limitations. In order for anyone to mentally escape the more challenging moments of life, one has to be able to imagine pleasurable events such as travel, adventure, love or whatever helps one to “feel better” in the moment. While my pretend scenarios did not miraculously change my mood or my body’s sense of distress overnight, through imagination gradually I came to believe in something beyond a loss or setback. In part, my own artistic expressions--whether visual, movement, improvisation or performance—are moments of envisioning new experiences that often lead to personal change.
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