Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Imagination 2

... when we were little kids, everyone in the neighborhood would gather under the big tree in Mr. Miller's yard to play. One day the tree would be the parking structure and the central point of an imaginary city and we would drive our tiny Matchbox cars around it. The next day the very same tree would be a jail where evil desparados were incarcerated. Later, it would become a spaceship, taking everyone to the furtherest realms of the galaxy. The games we played depended on who was there. Seeing kids playing in the shadow of that large oak was a common sight and no one paid much attention to us unless we were tormenting Cousin Lenny and he began to cry. Occasionally, however, someone, usually one of the local parents, came to check up on us. When the adult appeared, the play stopped and we responded to the questions or commands. As soon as the adult departed, the fantasy play would begin again, exactly where it had ended. This is the amazing power of imagination!
... last sumer, at the lake, I watched a young family romping playfully in the shallow water. At one point, the youngest son "became" a "superhero" and enticed his older siblings to form a Junior League of Justice. Brother and Sister assumed their roles as fellow crimefighters and began combatting evil. Amazingly, even Dad assumed his role as the villian, picking up the kids, one by one, and tossing them a few yards away into the water as they attacked. They joyfully bobbed to the surface and returned to attack again and again.
... several things enthralled me about the whole scene. First, it was the youngest son who initiated the game and it had characters, a plot, and a moral. Second, the kid engaged his siblings to play along and, although it took them a minute or two to join in, they did begin to play along with their younger brother's fantasy. Soon, they were as caught up in the fun as the younger one. The third thing that enthralled me was that an adult, Dad, suspended his grip on reality too, becoming the villian and a part of the whole scenario.
... Why does this excite me? The answer is simple. That whole scene proves to me that we don't lose our imagination as we grow older. The part of our brain, our personalities, that allows us to use our imagination stays with us forever. It is a resource to be tapped into whenever we need or choose to. The important point here is that our imagination is there for us to use when the occasion and opportunity arises.