Above all, I believe in imagination. Remember what it was like to be a little kid; playing all the time, being totally carefree? The world was like a big chalkboard—you could create it however you wanted. There were imaginary friends, flights to Pluto. You could climb Mt. Everest, run through the Amazon. You could be a lion protecting her territory or a bird flying through a huge, open blue sky. As we get older, and more things become apparent to us, we start to lose that freedom. When I look back and see a girl riding a horse through a field (which was really me sashaying around the playground in elementary school,) I feel nostalgic. I think today being playful and expressing your imagination as a teenager is severely looked down upon, and everything we see tells us to grow up fast. It’s not cool to be immature, but is being imaginative immature? Of course not! It’s the only reason we live in the society we do. All the inventions that make our daily life what it is are the product of the human imagination. We have electricity, transportation, technology and media. The human race has gone from ape technology to the ability to fly, the ability to send huge amounts of information all the way around the world in a fraction of a second. Put a price on that! I think it’s actually one of the most important things we have. From Harold (the kid with the purple crayon who draws his world,) to Bill Gates, imagination is the seed of most of what we see around us.
The Peter Pan story is one of my favorites, because it teaches you how to believe in magic, and brings you into a world where the way a child’s mind works is how the world works. One of my favorite scenes from a movie is in “Hook,” where grown up Peter Pan and the Lost Boys sit down to a meal. Many bowls and platters are brought out, but to Peter they look empty. Once he believes, a gigantic, fantastic feast appears. He learns to leave the cynical adult behind and become that marvelous child once again.
So many stories teach this. We love to forget about the hate, death and despair that seem to be inevitable in this world. I believe we all need a little magic in our lives. It brings hope, it brings laughter, it brings love and joy. If there’s any way to survive hardships, it’s to imagine that it can get better.
Despite how old I get, I’ll always believe in imagination. I’ll always hold those magical worlds I’ve created close to my heart, whether through daydreaming or stories I write. So if you see me looking off into space, just know I’m happily soaring through Neverland.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.