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Thursday, 12 July 2012

JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME)


There is a quote by Ursula K. Le Guin that has set me thinking. “I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.” 

This week I’ve been taking great delight in watching the deep, rich imaginative play of my three year old. Yesterday she tied up her toy ‘Wild Thing’ so that he couldn’t eat Curious George. She’s taken to running a bustling cafe for invisible guests and for some reason is always carrying a pistol of sorts (water or spud gun) in her Hello Kitty purse. Occasionally I catch my seven year old in a conversation with someone from his secretive inner life…but my eldest is now firmly grounded in the real world. What causes this change? Where does that vivid imagination go?

For most adults, this imaginative life is crushed out of us with each added responsibility, unless of course, they are lucky enough to make a living in the arts. Why do we banish it? We use negative expressions for those that display this aspect, even in older children – head in the clouds, living in fairyland, he’s a daydreamer and so on. How does something so delightful suddenly become an unwanted behaviour? We only seem to celebrate it if there’s a school mark that makes it okay.

We adults make token seasonal gestures with our children – Santa, the Tooth fairy and the Easter bunny but we have some sort of expiration date on these mythical figures, and we’re quick to dispel them once the child reaches a certain age.

A few years ago I decided I didn’t laugh enough, and went on a manic pursuit of comedians, to get that ‘sore cheeks from grinning’, belly aching laughter that doesn’t seem to come naturally anymore. A year later I decided I didn’t have enough fun – we had lots of enjoyable afternoons and evenings but not that endorphin releasing joy. So off we went to theme parks, water slides and obstacle courses…Now I’ve decided I want that happiness my three year old displays when submerged in her imagination. But how do I do this? I’m at a total loss.

I want the world to have magic to revel in and I want a way to disguise the dull routine of daily life, somehow dressing it up with an instantaneous dinner in Paris or a lavishness that isn’t really there. I want to be able to go back down the rabbit hole and explore the wonders but it seems a little more difficult as those doors are all shut and I no longer have the key.

I guess with age, I’m more like the tied up Wild Thing than the curious little monkey – if truth be told, I’m the tired old woman who just sees a mess of toys and string to be tidied up. Sadly, I guess that could be the new definition of an eggplant.

Linking this old post for #ArchiveLove, Do you ever miss the magic and imagination that is crushed out of adulthood?

26 comments:

  1. Why not start with lying on the ground watching the clouds float by and see where they take your imagination ?
    Have the best day dreaming day !
    Me

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  2. It is interesting. It is SO hard to switch the thoughts off and just be in the moment and enjoy it. Wow, that cloud looks like a fox! So what, I need to cook dinner, bub needs a bath in 45 minutes, did I call the doctor today?, must vacuum tonight, ENOUGH!

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  3. On this very theme, I listened to a Morrissey record today (yes, laugh at me - I said "Morrissey" and "record", like a pathetic old man). But, hey, hearing some of those old songs again after so long made me grin. (Early period, of course, before Moz's records became positively dreadful.)

    Like being conditioned into not playing games or daydreaming, I feel my musical tastes have been shaped over time towards what is "cool", rather than what gives me joy. So I'm trying to regress a little and get back to basics.

    Good luck with your endeavours. Just don't fret too much about not being happy - kids don't do that (at least not for more than a few minutes till they get what they want!)

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    1. I hope you're not suggesting Moz isn't cool? Luckily vinyl is cool, which makes anything you play on vinyl instantly cool too.

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  4. This is a gorgeous post. I am really guilty of telling my kids to go and play while I get all the practical house stuff done, rather than joining in their games. I do think that no one has a belly laugh like my two year old when he's being tickled or entertained by his big sisters - it is so free and unabashed. Pure joy! It would be nice to tap into that more often as a grown up.

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  5. Ooh I want to go back down that rabbit hole too. If you find the key or that cake that says 'eat me' let me know. I'd be interested to know at what age your eldest stopped escaping to his imaginary world. Was it around seven or eight?

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    1. It varies with each child. My eldest, about 8 but my middle one is still going strong well past that...

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  6. I had the same ponder of when imagination goes astray. I guess reality kicks in when we get older, I am enjoying watching my little ones off in a world of their own, and sometimes I am forced to become a kid again and join in with their imaginary games.

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    1. Why does it kick in though? Seems a waste...

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  7. Made me think of Walter Mitty, Lydia. I hope I'm never without my imagination. Sometimes apparently I'm just a little too "head in the clouds", but hey, that's just everyone else's opinion.
    As a reader of your work, I'm pretty sure you're no eggplant. x

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    1. Now I just think of the Beatles song, I am the Walrus....(obviously with a slight word change!)

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  8. Lydia, I love this! And I agree agree agree! This is exactly what I want to talk about on Wednesday...as adults we should be immersed in imagination, and creativity, if nothing else for the sake of our kids. We can learn a lot from them if we sit by and watch. Imagination is just as important as knowledge, learning, skills etc. Without it we wouldn't be human, I reckon.
    Thanks so much for linking up. Always love to hear your thoughts xx http://mylittlesunshinehouse.com

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    1. Your talk will be interesting...and thanks :)

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  9. I had a similar thought in my post today. It's sad that so many things that make a child happy and content are then squashed out of them in the name of being responsible. I don't think having a vivid imagination and being a responsible adult should be mutually exclusive. We all need an outlet, a place to go when real life sucks.

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    1. I like the idea of it as a place to hang. I hadn't really thought of that before...

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  10. Great post as always Lydia thought provoking. I just make sure I go along for the ride in Mr 3's imagination. I play along with his imaginary friends and I serve them dinner and ask them how their day has gone. You have imagination in your writing and in your dreams at night. You have imagination in asking questions and pondering on the why's and what for's of the world.

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    1. How lovely for your 3 year old...it's a shame when adults get too busy (I can be guilty of that sometimes, I hate to admit)

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  11. Great post - I'm so thankful to work in a creative industry... and I do wonder how accountants and the like get their imaginative kicks.

    I'm sure you're no eggplant.

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  12. I'm definitely a 'head in the clouds' kind of person - I think you are right when you say that we just switch off from things, we get so caught up in the mundane that the ridiculous can pass us by. That's partly what defines my blog, I try to capture the ridiculous in my every day life and believe me, there's a lot of it about (and I'm pretty sure it's not just me ... )

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  13. I am loving my 3 year olds imagination and am tyring desperately to become sucked into his world. The real world sucks and I wish I could stay oblivious to it.

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  14. I have loved reading this post again. Mr 4's imagination is really coming out lately and I love listening to the stories he makes up with his toys. I'm still no closer to working out how to get back in touch with that world, maybe we need to be invited by the little people in our world?

    Thanks for linking up with us at The Lounge!

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  15. I like this post. Thought provoking. Visiting from the lounge.

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  16. Wow! Beautiful post!
    Growing up isn't pretty. I still have a pretty abnormal chunk of imagination present for my age. Seeing movies helps. I enjoy sci-fi. Enough said.

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  17. I was always told 'you have too much imagination' ...by my practical parents. Let me tell you it made me a wonderful teacher of little kids and an amazing Grandma of our gorgeous grandkids. I still have a great imagination and just wish it didnt take me down some negative laneways too. Great reminder to PLAY...it's the best learning ever.

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