Someone sent me a forward the other day. I don't usually pay attention but this one was pretty good. It had to do with growing up in the decades of the 30's thru the 70's. It focused on the fact that we grew up not wearing helmets to ride our bikes and shooting BB guns and playing outside until dark and not having video games and cell phones and the like. At the end of it, it talks briefly about the imagination of these generations of people compared to the imagination of now. I'm not printing it here because, frankly, it is well-intentioned but not all that well-written. But it got me to thinking about the imagination of childhood and it disappears over time. The previous post quoting Robert R. McCammon says it all so much better than I can. But here's a little blast from the past...something I wrote back during my seminary days. I think it reflects my ongoing to desire to retain the wonder of childhood.
In the world of an adult, there is no magic. The magic is "churched out, spanked out, washed out and churched out."* When we, as adults, attempt to fan the dead embers of magic back to life, we are sometimes labelled rebellious, silly, irresponsible, childish, insane and immature. We, as adults, are, however, allowed to embark on spiritual quests in the pursuit of the enhancement of creativity. Why? Why can't we be creative? What has happened to our imaginations? Where has the magic gone to?
Childhood was full to the brim with the magic. We only have to journey back in our memories to find remnants of it. We should remember back to times when a bath towel tied around our neck transformed us into the Man of Steel or the Dynamic Duo. A lawn sprinkler in the grass provided more enjoyment than the fanciest Olympic swimming pool. A majestic oak tree would become a castle full of knights or a spaceship filled with wondrous beings with awesome powers. A broken branch from that same tree would become a gun and pine cones served as grenades. Dirt clods made awesome bombs because of the puffs of dust they became on impact. The Archies sang Sugar, Sugar and their sounds became our sounds as we put on faux concerts for our parents on the back porch. A box of blocks and a cheap bag of army men made you the master of the world. Monsters and dinosaurs roamed the flickering images of our television sets when we stayed up too late watching the Creature Feature and then came to life again the next day with a little imagination and some art supplies.
Those were the days when you would ask your parents how Santa Claus would get in your house because you didn't have a fireplace only to be told he had keys to everyone's houses. A day playing in the woods with your buddies, building your forts and your treehouses, was perhaps the greatest sense of community you will ever feel in your lifetime. Back in those days, Red Skelton was the funniest man on earth, Bugs Bunny was king and we discovered the Beatles through Alvin and the Chipmunks. Ships orbited the Earth, men walked on the moon, but children flew to outermost reaches of the galaxy. Why? Because they had their imagination. A child could do anything, be anything, write anything, draw anything...create anything. The imagination was limitless. Why did we have to grow up and place limits on ourselves? Why do we throw the magic away?
We need it back. Adults need the magic, if only in small doses every once in a while, to feel young and immortal, full of life, and to believe that they can conquer at least their little corner of the world. Keep the magic alive. Store part of it away in a private place. Let it be free once in a while. Take it for walks, read it a story, draw it a picture, write it a poem, or sing it a song. Don't lock it up or it will die. Let the magic live. In it's life, we may find more of our own.
So, that's why I make art, beat my drum, write poems, read books, and whatever else I do that may seem foolish to the workaholic society we live in today. I am trying to live and not just exist.
*From Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life