“The world of reality has its bounds, the world of imagination is boundless.” ~ Rousseau
Rousseau’s quote reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a girlfriend. We were reminiscing about our childhood experiences. I looked back over a time when I used to let my imagination run wild… thought about stories in my past when in my opinion I could accomplish anything in my little world. My friend laughed as she had similar experiences. At that time in her life, she also thought she could conquer the world.
One of the instances I remember so well concerns Jim, my younger brother, who used to get sick, often. At this time, Jim was approximately three years old and I was around five. The weather was especially wet and cold so mother ordered us to play inside. Jim had been recuperating from being sick once again. In order to amuse ourselves, we decided to play “King and Queen” for a day.
It was as if my Fairy Godmother had swished her magic wand over my head, as I fully immersed myself in the role of being a Queen. I no longer existed as a little girl… I had become a Queen Mother… a ruler! I could do anything I wanted and succeed. I knew that the beloved King was deathly ill, so it was critical to me that I cure him of his sickness. My little imagination went wild. It was as if my every day little world no longer existed and I instantly had been transformed into a new realm. I was no longer in the recreation room of our multi-level home, but actually in a castle. I knew the King’s health was dire, so I ran to create a magic potion to make him well.
In the “days of old,” castles had apothecary rooms, so I ran into our “apothecary room” more commonly called the bathroom. I searched through the medicine cabinet and under the sink. I grabbed whatever my little hands could reach to mix together… Listerine, peroxide, and heaven’s knows what else. I was determined to mix an elixir that would solve the King’s health problems. I was utterly proud of myself as I knew that I had found the perfect potion that would restore the King’s health.
I ran to the King and ordered him to drink my magic medicine. He took one whiff and scowled, yet I convinced him to take a bit of a taste for his own good. Jim took a teeny sip, screamed and cried for mother. The next thing I remember is being dragged to the bathroom. I was scared, angry, and confused! I was only trying to help the King, but mom did not accept my story. Mom washed my mouth out with soap… “to receive a taste of my own medicine.” From there I spent the rest of the afternoon in the closet as my mother said those famous words, “Wait until YOUR father gets home!” I huddled in the coat closet and cried. I didn’t understand why mom was angry at me.
Mom assumed that I had intentionally attempted to harm my brother… but to me, my position as “big sister” had vanished as I was now head of a kingdom and could accomplish ANYTHING. As Queen, I had to save the person I cared about most. But to me, as Queen, no one could question my supreme authority… or so I thought!
I was terrified of my mother, as she was very short tempered and her punishments – harsh. The problem was that I didn’t understand why my actions were so wrong. I was only attempting to make the King well. When dad came home, he didn’t say a word to me regarding the incident and I was sent to my bedroom. My dad, to me was my friend. He would save me from mom’s wrath.
In sharing with another girlfriend about my experiences using my imagination, she told me she was impressed with my being a nurturer even as a small child… that I cared that much to help someone I loved.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
As a child, when my imagination ran free, I could be Annie Oakley riding my horse through the fields. I could rope horses or cattle. I even attempted to cast my rope over my German Shepherd’s head as to me Duchess was a stray cow. My neighbors didn’t realize it, but they were safe as I was there to protect them… with my trusty imaginary rifle in hand.
I even transformed into a settler as I created my very own log cabin. My shack actually was a burnt out tree stump in the midst of our woods. I created all the comforts of home as I arranged a small log as a bench with a pile of leaves as a pad for the hard bench. Then I fabricated some form of small table. I even brought little tea cups and plates out to store in my imaginary home.
I would sweep my floor and arrange my home to make it a comfortable place to live. I would invite my imaginary friends to visit and join me for a meal. I thought my hiding place was huge, only to discover years later, that as an adult, I would never have been able to crawl into that space.
However, back then, when mom was angry at me, and I needed the safety of my imaginary world, I would often climb out my ground-floor bedroom window to venture off to my special log cabin. I would often sit there and cry as I simply didn’t understand why I was in trouble… again. In my log home I was free to accomplish anything I wished.
“In happy hours, when the imagination
Wakes like a wind at midnight, and the soul
Trembles in all its leaves, it is a joy
To be uplifted on its wings, and listen
To the prophetic voices in the air
That call us onward.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow