use your imagination

My daughter is a dreamer. She calls it “telling stories”. Laying back on her top bunk bed, she stares through the ceiling and imagines other worlds. The people in her worlds have polite conversations with one another, and their basic role in the world is to lavish Hannah with kind words of encouragement and adoration. Her ideal world basically consists of being a princess that gets to eat all the sweets one could ever desire. It’s a silly, childish, beautiful (to her) dream. I recently thought to myself, “At what point should I discourage this silly dreaming? Surely, she needs to know that the world is not always sweet. I’ll wait til she’s 8. That’s probably the age when a young girl needs to stop having silly-heart dreams. Right?” After giving it some thought, I’m not so sure 8 is the appropriate age, or if there ever comes an age when we should stop dreaming.

I’m an idea man. I thrive on creating schemes and projects, and I’m fueled by enthusiasm. I once started a successful city-wide ping pong league with my friends. I’ve organized a neighborhood clothing swap. I love good ideas, and I love figuring out ways to carry them out even more. Lately, my enthusiasm has been waning. My gaze on the world has been set to a horizontal plane, and what I see and read is mostly discouraging. Just take a look at any given story in the daily news and peruse the comment thread and you’ll see what I mean. People can get pretty ugly with one another, especially when we fight over differing ideas.

My daughter imagines a world full of sweets to consume and enjoy. It’s perfect. If you asked a room full of 5 year-olds if they would like to live in Candyland and gorge on sweets all day long, everyone of them says yes. They can all imagine this beautiful world…they’ve had a taste of it and want it! They’ll come up with ideas to make this world a reality, and they will take action. Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen and found a chair shoved up to the counter top and both cupboard doors were left disturbingly ajar. I walked down the hallway and called for Hannah. I heard shuffling in the bathroom. So, I entered to find Hannah crouched behind the toilet bowl devouring a bag full of jelly beans. I not-so calmly explained to Hannah that she is not allowed take sweets from the cupboard without permission, and that eating food behind toilets is never a good idea. I took the bag of jelly beans from her, and she ran into her room and wept uncontrollably.

I don’t spend enough time imagining the world as it ought to be. Ideas and action begin with imagination. I’ve been depressingly mired into looking at the world as it is, not what it could or should be…and, not surprisingly, I’ve had few ideas and little desire to take any action. I want set my gaze to a vertical plane, and lay back on my bed, staring through my ceiling, and imagine something beautiful.

Hannah’s ideal world will change without me telling her. She’ll keep dreaming, and there will be times when someone takes her dreams away and she’ll run to her room in tears. There will also be times when the only way to dry those tears is to tell yourself stories of a beautiful place where everything is sweet. Don’t ever stop dreaming Hannah. I love your beautiful, childish, sweet, silly heart.

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