There are bright white lights upon the east-southeast horizon. It is dark and I am testing the limits of a smartphone with a small telescope by taking pictures of the moon through an adapter and eyepiece. I have not noticed the hour that has passed, I barely took notice of the skunk headed past me for the remaining seeds left by the birds beneath the bird feeders. But now that I see it, this blazing white light at horizon level, some distance away, I can't stop imagining what it could be.
This is how writing fiction begins: an exercise of the imagination, an explanation for the unknown. In any world outside of fiction the variety of explanations would be labeled reasonable or unreasonable, imaginative or possibly even conspiratorial.
Whatever one's level of education or lack thereof, we humans are never lacking in our imaginative explanations for the unknown, especially when confronted by our fear of it. Our fears are far more responsible for turning what is only imagined into realities that never existed in the first place, than the uninfluenced reality that we refuse to accept, even after we know the truth before our fears influenced it. From the written word being perceived as the literal truth to reality television being promoted as a visualized truth, no matter how many edits take place in the creation of either, what is known versus what is imagined can often become a blurred line.
I imagine, for instance, there existed some distant time when the skies were considered to be the heavens where only angels and God lived and ruled. Then some bright light came crashing down from those heavens one day and slammed into the Earth. What better explanation among those who saw the world above as the heavens than an angel being cast out? “Pretty imaginative," I think aloud.
I turn my thoughts away from that white light on the horizon and other such distractions and back to the heavens above. A small meteorite crosses the sky; a shooting star. I move on to attempting to photograph Jupiter, then Saturn, and think about the origins of those names. Quickly I am realizing the limits of this smartphone/digital camera and telescope combination. The ages we've known are littered with the successes and failed attempts to explain the world we live within. But the more time we have, the more educated we become.
Sometimes an angel cast from the heavens is only a meteorite ending its journey as an asteroid in space. Such imaginative explanations represent the realities we face as human beings trying to explain our own behaviors than the reality outside our existence. Sometimes a white bright light on the horizon is just a white bright light on the horizon. Until one knows the nature of its source, it could be a great many things.
It's always best whenever possible to recognize the difference between the known and the imagined, else we‘ll never know a future beyond ourselves.