by Kathleen McKern Verigin
"They call me the great pretender," crooned the 1950s band, The Platters. The pretending they sang about was rooted in angst. While in water aerobics class this morning, it occurred to me that I too am a great pretender, in a fun way.

When we were instructed to run in place for sixty seconds, I remembered how much I hate running, even in my younger and thinner days. So today I pretended I was an Olympic runner, on my way to a gold medal. The minute flew by and left me panting and smiling.
The instructor told us to do a series of forward leaps. This time I pretended that I was a prima ballerina gracefully moving across a stage. Baryshnikov beckoned, poised to catch and lift my lithe body. I swear my leaps took me above the heads of my fellow swimmers.
Later we were instructed to move our extended arms together and apart, in front of our bodies. "Make waves," the instructor shouted. Suddenly, in my pretending game, I was Moses parting the Red Sea. The patterns in the water were amazing. I didn't want to stop.
At its root, pretend means to "stretch forth." We did this very naturally as young kids. By pretending, playing make believe, we stretched our minds by using our imagination. Anything was possible! I wonder when that stops. When we start school? At puberty? Or perhaps the first time an adult told us that what we imagined wasn't real.
I think it's time to drop the shame and reclaim our joyful sense of imagination. To make time to play, to vision, to dream. When I was a documentary writer and producer a boss once startled me when he walked into my cubicle. I had my feet up on the desk while staring out the window at a beautiful spring day. I immediately put my feet down and started moving papers, pretending I was really working. I'll never forget his wise words. "You do not have to pretend like you're working. Taking time to do nothing is part of the creative process. Because out of nothing always comes something."
How can pretending help you today? Can you turn an angst into a positive by pretending everything is okay, even if just for a few moments? Remember, we are all Great Pretenders!

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