A couple weeks ago I was walking down the street and saw a handful of dead pigeons on the sidewalk. It was weird; as if they had randomly just started falling out of the sky, smashing their little birdie skulls on the hard pavement. This thought quickly turned to concern as I wondered if more birds were about to plummet to their deaths at my feet, or worse, on my head. Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but imagine that I was in some sort of apocalyptic, Alfred-Hitchcock-meets-Michael-Bay type of end-of-the-world Hollywood blockbuster movie. I hurried my pace, keeping my eyes peeled on the sky to watch for falling birds, while trying to get home to my family to save them from the neighborhood dogs that were infected with some kind of alien bacteria that transformed them into rabid, zombie-like demons. And also, I was Mark Wahlberg.
Usually, though, I just walk to my car and drive home.
And that is sad to me. As much as I knew that I was simply letting my imagination have fun and get stupid with the whole dead bird apocalypse thing – as much as I laughed at myself – it was amusing. Yet, while I consider myself an imaginative and creative person, I can’t help but notice that I don’t often leave room in my life to freely dream and imagine, much less actually pursue dreams.
This is why my kids are so important to me. They remind me constantly how great it is to wonder. Elysia is constantly imagining that she is surrounded by various characters – princesses, friends, fairies, talking animals, etc. – with whom she freely interacts.* Evan is always dreaming up some ridiculously awesome theories about why things are the way they are. If there are cracks in the pavement my kids will dodge them; if there are colored tile squares on a floor, my kids will jump on them. This usually has to do with some kind of hot lava that is filling up the rest of the floor, leaving only the colored squares to step on safely. Walking out of of a movie theater or a school is an adventure to them every time.
At some point, I stopped caring that I was walking in the hot lava. At some point, the destination became more important than the journey. And the more I thought about this – the fact that imagination, creativity, and dreaming seem to be so often stifled in favor of productivity and self-image – the more I started to feel like there is a danger of becoming less of ourselves as we get older. We are, after all, created in the image of The Creator. Creativity should be a part of who we are. Perhaps losing the freedom to be creative is losing a piece of who we are, in which case, we really are in hot lava.
So today I am thankful for dead birds and floor tiles and children because I am reminded that it is ok to imagine. I am reminded that I should be free to imagine and dream whatever and whenever I want.
So maybe I’ll be Mark Wahlberg again later today. Say “Hi” to your mother for me.