When did we become so boring?
This doesn’t apply to everyone – I have many imaginative and creative friends, but I’ve found that most people – most “grown ups” – become exceptionally BORING at some point. They are all so serious, so burdened with responsibility. When I was a small child I had some imaginary friends – Puffer and Mousey. A dog and a mouse that spoke like people. They lived in my hair.
Actually, I had an entire imaginary community complete with friends, enemies, and alligators living in the ditch at the edge of my front yard. Bring on elementary school and my friends and I had an entire imaginary world fully equipped with drama, unicorns, fireballs, crime-fighting and the like.
Obviously, daily imagination to this extent as an adult might be a cause for concern. But, at some point, I just stopped imagining things – most people do. But why? Why did we stop imagining ridiculous, fun, totally-out-of-this-world things? Are they not a great escape from the drudgery and responsibility of adulthood? Why did we embrace boredom?? Honestly – would you rather pay your mortgage or slay a dragon? C’mon.
I’d venture to guess that we lay off imaginationland right around the same time it became “uncool” to do so. Teenagers are so lame. They get all immersed in themselves, and pop culture, and being told what is cool, and then blindly following it. For the age group most hell-bent on claiming their independence, they sure are quick to conform.
One way people hang on to that imagination sensation is through books. This is decidedly the most healthy way to imagine yourself riding unicorns as an adult. Prancing around the back yard waving a broken broom handle claiming you’re part of Bilbo’s entourage – as an adult, with no child in tow – will probably land you a sweet psych evaluation. However, the authors of these books that give us our imaginative escape have held onto that imagination sensation. They see an ordinary scenario and run away with it into the depths of their creativity and create a story that each of us can get lost in. This point was brought home to me by reading Ray Bradbury’s introduction to the compilation of his 100 best short stories. He gave examples of where the inspiration for these short stories came from – real life events – a scene he witnessed, a comment someone made, a newspaper headline. Here is a grown man, seeing something normal, everyday, perhaps even mundane and making it into something extraordinary in his own imagination; then blessing us all by sharing it with us, so that we might escape into a story for a while – instead of checking our work email.
Holding on to that imagination-sensation is important to me. It’s one of the reasons I love Disney-Pixar movies as a grown adult. I’m sorry, but it would be much more fun to traverse the ocean looking for one tiny clown fish, or float my house away with balloons, than to clean the bathroom. It is also one of the reasons I wish to embrace my desire to write. It would be awesome to have some time each day to just get lost in my imagination.
That being said, my suggestion is for each of us to do that. You don’t have to write, if that’s not your thing, but I think a bit of time spent each day just daydreaming has to be healthy. I’m not talking about pining over a bigger house or a fancier car, but imagine you’re Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice, or Ironman, or Voldemort (muhahaha). Or just spend some time with a kid. What is more awesome than a 4-year-old that can amuse himself for hours pretending vacuum cleaner attachments are ninja swords and nunchucks? Let’s not lie, part of you deep-down wishes that’s how you were spending your afternoon as well – fighting ninjas or making dinner? – easy choice, as far as I can see.
Adults can be so boring. So, set down the checkbook, rinse the dish soap off your hands, turn off the news. Go play in Narnia for a while. You can thank me later.