Kopfkino (noun) Origin: German | The act of playing out an entire scenario in your mind.

Hard translation is “head cinema” and as the definition goes, these are for those times where you start daydreaming or imagining scenarios about how a situation will unravel.

I live in my head.  Specifically when I am stressed out. My specific types of scenarios are often referred to as “heroic imagination” scenarios.  Yes.  I am the hero of my own dreams and my own imaginations. Of course to be a hero, you have to face adversity, trials, and tribulations.  I will admit that my scenarios run the outrageous to the often outlandishly ridiculous extreme. In my imagination, I never stood quietly by why bullies beat down the underdog.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke

I used to think it was weird.  Even when I was in the middle of one of these mental scenarios.  This existing in the reality of feeling inadequate, beaten down, or inadequate while at the same time co-existing in my wonderful mental reality of always overcoming the odds and taking out societies bullies and deviants through my Emmett Brown – mad-scientist high-intellect, James Bond -smarmy attitude, and MacGyver-like ingenuity.

What I believe played a part in my transition from every day nerd kid to heroic fixer of all things evil (or moderately annoying)?  As I researched this phenomena, I came to realize that this affliction might very well come from the wealth of random and situational realities that I grew up in.

When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me. – Fred Rogers

Helicopter Parents – When I grew up, the definition of a helicopter parent would have been: A parent who randomly flies by and zooms off.  From about the age of 2-7, my sisters and i had free run of the yard and back alley and possibly the block our house existed on. Parents would look out the windows or neighbors would babysit us from their own windows.  We knew how to behave (mostly) because we knew we would be ratted out by the ratfink neighbors. From 7-11, we managed to work our territory to the local playground, swimming pool, chasing ice cream trucks for miles, and sometimes even to our downtown area. As long as we were back home before dark … or before our parents got home, we were pretty much never in trouble.  From 11-18 we pretty much did what we wanted and then begged for forgiveness after the fact.  This is not to say that we never got in trouble or found ourselves in ridiculous predicaments.  I imagine this is definitely one of the reasons my heroic imagination developed.  Childhood is sometimes kind of scary and to overcome this, I developed scenarios where I could rescue myself and my sisters.

80s movies – The Garbage Pail Kids, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Adventures in Babysitting, Better Off Dead, Breakfast Club, Red Dawn, Footloose, Weird Science, all of the Stephen King movies.  Really, almost every 80s movie ever made. Outlandish scenarios with outlandish heroes.

You can kind of see the hero in me.  Right?  Always in disguise. Kind of amazing.

Reading Books – I was a bit of a loner and super shy as a child.  I always played the part of the underdog.  I had a great imagination.  I read book after book about children and teens on magical adventures, or misadventures.  Kids who overcame difficulties like being kidnapped, shipwrecked, abandoned, etc.  They always managed to come out on top.  They were kids with moral courage and the willingness, adaptability and wherewithal to overcome the odds and stand up to evil in every form.

Military Training – I joined the Navy at 16 and went to boot camp during the summer between my junior and senior year.  Part of this was due to my belief that I was really the only one I could count on to fix, save, repair myself or my sisters from some of the outrageous situations we often found ourselves in.  I mean, you have to learn to fight and control situations and what better way to do that. Bootcamp sucked.  But I did learn some life skills that have stayed with me to this day.  I’m not afraid of many things.

“I think a hero is really any person intent on making this a better place for all people.” – Maya Angelou

As I grew up, married, had kids, divorce, changed jobs, traveled, and everything else that happens in life, I still occasionally (often) revert back to  this heroic and positively deviant imagination.  For years I tried to break this habit because even I thought it was bizarre.  This existing in the actual world while equally and positively existing in this alternate and wonderful world where I overcame the odds every single time.

After years of doing this, I feel like it often helps me figure out daily situations.  As long as I am not zoning out and being inappropriate.  I mean I have never actually tried to wear a spandex outfit and climb the side of a building.  But this imagination has made me a little more situationally aware.  I have been told it is better to be a hero in my imagination than the one who is beaten down. I think I am more resilient these days and less afraid than I was as a child.  I hardly ever play the bystander which is super helpful in a crisis situation.  Sometimes, my imagination only brings me to a place of self-acceptance.  For me, being the hero of my own story has led me to more amazing places and good outcomes than had I chosen to remain in my less appealing realities.  They have taught me to dream big and actually take action on my dreams.  There ain’t nothing wrong with being a hero.  Even if, most of the time, it’s only in your head.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.” – Felix Adler

Imagination: serendipity; Pete; yi-ching; ambivert; sandra; ben; aarzu; rahul; rajan; ally; norah

Teachable Moment – Reversal

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.  ~Mary Engelbreit

For those of you who have quiet moments, what do you think about?  When you have had the absolutely worst day, week or life you could ever imagine what do you focus on?  Where you are?  How you got there?  Where you wish you were?  How bad your life is?  How or when will things change for the better?  How many mistakes you made and how impossible it will be to get out of whatever it is you got yourself into?

It’s so easy to get into a situation and only focus on the bad or about the worst that might come and then to also couple those thoughts with all of your self-doubt and self-perceived weaknesses and how life is never going to change.  It’s called a rut and sometimes the only way to get out of it is to change your location/position or shift the way you are thinking or as I like to call it reversal of thought.

I remember a time long ago when I was struggling with something.  I don’t even remember now what it was. I just remember being distraught.  I was in great emotional distress and  pain.  My oldest daughter was very young and I had what I remember to be the weight of the world on my shoulders.  One night I called up my older sister and was explaining in details the dramas and traumas of my life.  I now know in retrospect that it could not have been that bad because the only thing now I remember about the conversation is that it had been going on for over an hour and then in the end it went something like this:

Me:  It’s terrible.  I just don’t know what to do.  Every night after I put Miranda down to sleep I start a very, very hot bath, I get into the tub and in less than a few minutes I am crying.

Sister:  That is terrible.  Do you know what I think you should do? Stop taking hot baths.

I know that some might think this a very unsupportive remark, cruel even but the truth is I started laughing.  It was exactly the remark I needed to really start thinking about my situation in a different light and it helped me realize that maybe my problem wasn’t that big.  That’s where my personal reversal of thinking started for that particular situation.

Different situation.  It was brought to my attention by my younger sister that I was, let’s say, living several levels below the poverty line.  I really didn’t realize it at the time until one day I get a call from said sister asking me tons of questions like, “How can you possibly be living how you are living with so little?” Well, I never thought much about it at the time as I chose not to think of myself as living in poverty. I chose other words to describe myself like: “minimalist” “gone green””less is more”. Get it, reversal.

One last example about me.  After 20 years of minimalism I land a job that .. .. .. paid. This job required me to move to my current location (Venezuela – if you haven’t read any of my last posts or saw my countdown timer on my main page.. I can update you later).  I was super excited and started buying all of the things that I didn’t realize people with more means than I already had .. a vacuum cleaner, a blender, professional work clothes, dishes.. etc.  All of these new belongings were placed in a container and shipped to Venezuela.  Well, 4 months after arriving in Venezuela (remember I’m only here 2 years) the day arrived and I was giddy with excitement.  I thought to myself, “This will be like Christmas.  I spent so much money.”  I get home to receive my container and this is what awaits me.

My worldly goods

Apparently, and no one knows how it happened, everything I owned had been sitting under sea water for about 3.5 months.  Everything was pretty much destroyed.  Obviously I was a bit upset, but not as much as one would imagine, but still upset.  So I call my dad and the conversation goes something like this:

Me:  Yeah dad, it’s terrible.  EVERYTHING I owned was in that container and it was all destroyed.

Dad: Well, why did you spend so much money to get all that stuff?

Me:  Because I didn’t have ANYTHING dad.

Dad:  Well, you don’t have anything now either do ya?

I know that some might think this a very unsupportive remark, cruel even but the truth is I started laughing.  (Are you seeing a pattern?  I have a very demented sense of humor).

When I taught English in Korea one of my favorite assignments was about how changing the way you say something or think of something could change everything.  I called it “The reversal” I used this video in my class and sometimes go back to it to remind myself how easy it can be to simply reverse your way of thinking to re-motivate yourself and change your own life and possibly the lives of others.  Enjoy