When I was a boy, I had a vivid imagination. I excelled in school and was typically the first to finish my assignments in class. I would look around and see the others still working, so I escaped off into my own world.
This world came to life and the characters I created spoke to me. Naturally, I spoke back to them. Unfortunately for everyone else, I did this out loud. So much so that I had to be reprimanded by the teachers more than once. This happened often enough that I had a note written to my parents about it.
I think back on this as a funny story but I wonder if that reprimand did something in my heart. Is it possible that my imagination began to dwindle and my sense of reality was established at a young age because of this?
These days I find myself grounded in reality. I don’t care for fairy tales any longer. I don’t find myself lost in different worlds. The majority of my reading consists of non-fiction and I love learning about real life. I can deal with fiction in doses, sci-fi in even smaller ones and I avoid any and all fantasy fiction.
This from the kid who got lost in his own world and talked to himself so much that he got in trouble for it. So what happened?
“Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike. And to be childlike involves memory, we must never forget any part of ourselves.” – Madeline L’Engle
I realize that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be childlike. Even the story I shared was one I had to be reminded of. I’ve forgotten the part of me with an imagination capable of creating worlds. I’ve forgotten that I was created to be creative. In my premature journey towards maturity, I lost this part of myself.
When we lose our ability to be childlike, we lose our capacity for wonder. We stop believing in miracles and we reduce our Creator down to a list of rules and regulations; a checklist of obligation.
Our only hope is to remember. We were all created with wonder. We all long to be amazed. There is a longing in us for more than we can see.
Art rekindles the memory. It’s no surprise that after all these years, I’ve come back to writing as an outlet. Even in writing non-fiction on this blog, I am reminded that words create worlds. They create a grid for thinking, our paradigms and belief systems.
We may believe in the supernatural. We may believe we can talk to angels. We may believe we can walk on water. We may believe in miracles. But when life gets too real, bills need to get paid and we get reprimanded for our “overly active” imaginations, we tend to forget.
Our art is a gift fueled by imagination and creativity. We live in the tension of now and not yet, of what’s seen and unseen. Too much of what’s now and what’s seen causes us to forget and we abandon the gift.
The only way to recover the gift is to step back and remember that kid who was able to see the unseen and do the impossible.