A meme for a Sunday afternoon: Five imaginary lives

In an effort to get back into writing fiction (and, hopefully, poetry as well), I've been working my way through the exercises in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. The one I've found the most fun so far is the one she calls "Imaginary Lives": imagine that you have five other lifetimes to pursue whatever you want to pursue; what would you do in each of them? It occurred to me that this would make an interesting meme, and that I would love to hear how various blog friends would answer the question. So here are my five; feel free to adopt this meme at your own blog or post your own five in the comments!

In no particular order:

  1. Dramaturg. I went through a hugely stagestruck phase in my late teens/early 20s, and there for a while in college I took theater classes and auditioned for a bunch of shows; but after a while I realized that acting wasn't really one of my talents. But being intimately involved with a production behind the scenes and being paid to do loads of research? That would be fantastic.
  2. Perfumer. A week ago I was chatting with an acquaintance who makes soaps and bath products and with whom I always end up talking about perfumes. "I think it would be really fun to blend my own," I said, "but I don't think I have the nose for it." "Oh, I think you do," she replied, "you just haven't trained yourself by sniffing all the different notes one at a time and learning what happens when you start combining them." I also think it would be marvelous to do what the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab does and create scents based on myths and legendary places and poems and fictional characters.
  3. Book artist. I love artists' books; I love altered books; I'm fascinated by the work of small presses; I had a wonderful time at the bookmaking workshop I went to this fall; and every time I see an artist's book or a beautiful small press book, I think "I want to do that!"
  4. Costume designer. (Especially if I could be a costume designer for an opera company.) Another behind-the-scenes job for stagestruck people who don't necessarily want to act; see #1 above. Knitting has given me a whole new level of interest in the aesthetics of clothes, and I've always been something of a costume history geek.
  5. I don't know quite what to call this one, but if I had but world enough and time, I would spend at least one lifetime walking all over the world and writing books about it. "Mountaineer" isn't quite the right word: I've never really burned with the ambition to scale Mount Everest, or even Mont Blanc. I'm not interested in ropes and pulleys and serious climbing gear and oxygen deprivation; I'm more interested in just wandering wherever my feet can take me. Kind of like Alfred Wainwright but not just for the Lakeland Fells (although I could happily spend years and years wandering around the Lakeland Fells).

Over to you, Reader. If you had five extra lifetimes, what would you do with them?

5 Responses to “A meme for a Sunday afternoon: Five imaginary lives”

  1. Oh, MAN. First, I wish I’d known you were doing Cameron; my sister strongly recommended going through those exercises with a friend, and I was going to ask around to see if anyone was interested in joining me! Second, though, I do this sort of other-lifetime-imagining ALL THE TIME. 1) I’d love to buy some land and raise goats for meat; 2) I wish I’d followed up on my interest in science in college, and become a physicist or an engineer; 3) the more I learn about people, the more I wish I were a sociologist of the sort that’s actively involved in community organizations; 4) I’m not sure if I have it in me to be a vet, but I wouldn’t have minded some sort of career in animal welfare; and 5) I’d steal your last one, but with more of a pilgrim orientation. (Have you read Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume? It’s the best treatment of scents in words that I’ve found, along with BPAL.)

  2. Amanda says:

    It’s not too late — I’m only just finishing week 2 of Cameron. So if you still want someone to join you, I could always start over, or pause for a couple of weeks!
    I like the goat idea — I like all of them, actually, but the goats are especially appealing because I occasionally fantasize about farming alpacas when I retire. (They produce a very soft, warm fleece that people call “poor man’s cashmere,” and they have such wonderfully ridiculous faces.)

  3. Hee! I thought the goat idea would probably sound the weirdest, but it’s the one I’m closest to actually trying.
    Let me figure out if I can take on Cameron – I really liked the idea for a while, but I’m starting to hit a good stride with research, and am afraid to take time away from that, even if it’s with the goal of being more productive. My friends have really loved her, though.

  4. dale says:

    1) sometimes I wish I’d followed through and persevered and become a scholar of Old English. But not often.
    2) I’d be a materials scientist and an obsessed inventor of lighter-than-air craft and personal flying apparatus. I’ve always wanted to fly, but not encased in a tin can with a loud & dirty engine running right next to me. With balloons & wings.
    3) I’d be a Chinese scholar and herbalist.
    4) I.d have studied medicine and become a grand debunker of ineffective and cruel “heroic” treatments.
    5) I’d wander, wander, wander. Like your #5

  5. Amanda says:

    Isn’t it funny how we all have wandering in common? Such a lot of world to see (and now I’ve earwormed myself with “Moon River”).