Children are king when it comes to being imaginative. Their minds are designed for creativity; effortlessly conjuring up stories and scenarios. Remember when you were young, sixth grade and younger – do you remember the purity of play?
I recently watched a great movie on Netflix called, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, that triggered my forgotten childhood innocence. The youngest cast member, a four-year-old girl, shares a secret box with the adult female lead; it’s where she keeps all of her treasures for safe-keeping. She pulls out a small bottle, uncorks it, and they both breathe in its intoxicating contents. Although we, the viewer, can only see an empty bottle, the two characters are caught up in a magical moment where only one thing exists – the scent of imagination.
When do we lose the ability to imagine beyond the realms of the rational? Is it around the time we hit middle school – sixth to seventh grade? It makes sense because at that time our minds are so focused on growing up and fitting in we have no more room for what is considered “child’s play.” No more sandbox filled with trucks, no more Barbie doll make-believe; we are now immersed in a semi-grown-up land where puberty, school-work, and sports suck all of our time away.
As necessary as growing-up is, it’s a bit sad that we must. Once we shove those playful days down and cover them up, it’s almost like we hit the point of no return. Try it; sit down with a Barbie doll or a pile of Legos and try to make it be like it was when you were seven – it’s truly impossible. The true art of playing as we did when we were young is different from enjoying life as an adult; it just is.
The greatest option we have to combat this dismal truth is reliving our days of old with our children, grandchildren, and friend’s children. It is the only time that we are truly allowed to revisit our innocence. We can uniquely connect with them as they play because we know exactly how they feel as we witness their imaginations running wild. It’s a beautiful thing!
Of course, all is not completely lost for us. As adults, we can still be creative, invoking our imaginations to churn up scenarios and possibilities. I think it’s just harder when you get older to do so; you have to work for it, it doesn’t come as freely anymore. It’s as if we have to give ourselves permission to find the purity of play again.
We all know we will never experience the same pure naivety we did when we were young, but trying to find even the smallest hints of it while living our enormously busy adult lives is quite possibly the key to finding happiness, fulfillment, and ultimately our true selves.