A lot is lost when we grow up.
Some of the most profound and interesting books I’ve ever come across have been for children. Alice in Wonderland, The Neverending Story, and The Phantom Tollbooth are a few that come immediately to mind. They carry so many layers, and I find that returning to them even years after I’ve “outgrown” them still spawns new ideas. There is always something deeper to consider, some message that can really change the way you view the world. And I wonder sometimes if these books are really for kids, or if they’re for adults. We’re meant to read them once and love them for the story they tell, and then just maybe, if we love them enough, we’ll return to them down the road and discover and understand what they’re really saying.
A lot is lost when the world tells you it’s time to stop using your imagination and grow up. Live in the real world, stop dreaming silly dreams. There is no place for the nonsensical in a life of work and responsibilities.
But really that’s entirely up to you, isn’t it? The thing is that it gets more difficult as we get older. I used to spend my days as a child pretending that I was someone else. I made up worlds and inhabited them at will – going through a seemingly normal school day while in my mind I was a princess escaping capture and disguising myself to fit in with other children so no one would realize who I was. I remember the weeks we spent in third grade pretending that the jungle gym was the Titanic, and we all had to escape it. Pretending was so easy. It took no effort at all. But what if you tried to use your imagination like that today? Could you even do it? Could you even stretch yourself outside of your own reality? It’s harder that it sounds, I can guarantee it.
There’s a particular line from the latest movie version of Alice in Wonderland that’s stuck with me since I saw it. Alice’s father tells her “I sometimes imagine as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Silly as it sounds, it gets harder and harder to imagine the impossible as we grow up.
Why not try, though? Think of it as an exercise of the imagination. Because just like anything else, if you don’t use it often enough, it will weaken. And I can’t think of anything worse than a dying imagination. This world gives us enough that is dull and gray and difficult. If we lose our ability to imagine, we lose out on so much joy in life.
So go ahead. Imagine. Pretend. It may sound silly, but wouldn’t it be horrible to wake up one morning and not be able to imagine even one impossible thing before breakfast?