On any given day my son is a dinosaur, spider man, a monster, a bad guy, superhero, and he can be all these things within an hour. It’s always fun to see him transform. He can put his spider man mask on or his superman cape, and his imagination takes over. He is no longer a 4 year old boy, but he can now defy the laws of gravity, spit fire, and command the forces of evil to stop in their tracks. Nothing is impossible for him.
Another interesting thing my son can do is create words and ascribe meaning to them. Skumpment is a regular word in my house. Skumpment can mean a few different things but it’s kind of like an accident. You spill your milk “that’s a skupment.” When my son first started making up words and defining them, we tried to stop this silly behavior. Then I had an idea. This child is a genius!
I’m a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings are some of my favorite fiction. Tolkien and Lewis both possessed an incredible imagination to be able to create these masterpieces, in fact one of Tolkien’s nicknames was Lord of the Imagination.
I wonder if Tolkien’s mother told him not to use his imagination when he was creating Middle Earth. Or what about C.S. Lewis when he created the world of Narnia did anyone try to suppress his imagination? If they did we don’t know who they are. History does not celebrate those that kill the imagination of great thinkers. We consider these men geniuses, but they just used their imaginations to create worlds that did not exist. Sounds silly to me. C.S. Lewis said, when referring to a period in his life, “it will be clear that at this time…I was living almost entirely in my imagination.”
Something happens to us…something terrible as we get older and wiser. Somewhere along the way we set aside our imaginations and we become realistic. At times it can be peers, parents, or leaders that tell us to get real. At some point we begin to believe things are impossible. At some point we stop doing things because people may laugh at us.
In the book The Reinventors by Jason Jennings he tells about Gordon MacKenzie who was the creative behind Hallmark. MacKenzie would go to elementary schools and tell the kids “I’m an artist…are any of you artists?” Without fail all the hands in the room would go up. When he went to the first grade class he got similar results, but a little less enthusiastic. Even though the response was less enthusiastic most kids thought they were creative.
MacKenzie would then go to the second grade, and for the most part they raised their hands with a percentage that would say “No, I’m not an artist. I’m not that creative.” As MacKenzie continued up the grades he noticed that the children who considered themselves artist decreased. When he got to sixth grade only two hands went up, and these children would only put their hands up with hesitation to make sure no one would laugh at them.
Jason Jennings asks in his book “what do you think happened to all the artists?” His conclusion is “year after year, project after project, somebody sprayed the kids with negativity, telling them what was wrong with their efforts. And all that negativity, chipped away at their good opinions of themselves. By sixth grade almost everyone had gotten the message: “Better not put your hand up. You’ll just get shot down.””
People in our lives can be joy killers and dream killers. Somewhere along the way you may have allowed someones words to crush the dream that you had in your heart. Don’t lose your child like wander and amazement.
What are you curious about…where is your sense of adventure? Locate the child within you and begin to wander…