As a child, my imagination soared. I was more than willing to believe in all the fictional characters my parents told me about: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, God. Prior to kindergarten, I had imaginary friends that went to my imaginary school that I talked about ad nauseam at the dinner table. When I was a little older, my best friend and I had imaginary boyfriends; mine was named Max and I would pretend-marry him on the fireplace stoop every weekend. I would write stories about being a superhero with my useless tiny dog as my sidekick, my four-speed bike was a horse named Legend, and every once in a while I became a detective that solved unthinkable crimes. My imagination was as wild as a 16 year-old goth’s hair.
Despite the moments when my imagination was at its most active, my fantasy stories and fictional characters were birthed from the same mind I possess today, albeit a less mature one (I hope). After every Lalaland-moment I had generated, even my innocent child-like mind couldn’t ignore the fakery I had created. One day, I told my Mom that I wanted real friends like my sisters had, not the imaginary ones I had created. My affection for Max waned and were replaced with crushes on JTT and the neighbourhood boy down the street. My superhero and detective tendencies faded as I became increasingly aware that jumping really high does not equate to flying and finding the remote in the remote stand does not speak to my ability to solve crimes. My bike became a vehicle to get from point A to point B, and Santa Claus was just a fat old guy created by Coca Cola. Without the nourishment it needed, my imagination faded, and with it went my creativity.
(JTT – Via BlogSpot)
In high school, any hope for nurturing my creativity as an adolescent was lost when I quickly realized I was better at my science courses than my arts and literature courses. It was easier for me to recite facts and equations than to create stories or perform a monologue. For the rest of my educational career, I excelled in the sciences and, with each passing grade, my imagination and creativity died a little. Instead of writing tales about aliens invading Earth or learning how to tango, I was writing science reports and memorizing the first 20 elements of the periodic table. Even now at my current profession as a research scientist, my creativity is often restricted to minor things like deciding to label my tubes with a blue Sharpie instead of the mundane black one I normally use.
Although I did not pursue an education that stimulated my creativity (in fact, I would argue it did the exact opposite) nor work in a career that allows much leeway for thinking outside of the quadrilateral, the little girl I used to be—with her stories, overactive imagination, and creativity—is still swashing around somewhere inside of me. I never learned how to draw, play a musical instrument, or write fiction. Yet, I love going to art galleries, listening to music, and putting pen-to-paper. I may not know what makes a painting or photograph “good”, but sometimes my eyes will see a canvas and devour its contents.
I may not know the effort that goes into taking a photograph or the techniques that were used to create a painting, but I can be moved by them. And, after all, isn’t that the point? I may not have a single musical bone in my body, but I still strum my guitar and hope that something pretty happens. I still go to live shows and get swept away by the musical talent I encounter. I still find sanctuary in my iPod and playlists, and I still sing in the shower despite occasionally reaching a pitch that only dogs can hear. And I may not know all the steps to creating a protagonist, reaching the climax (err… of a story), or defeating an antagonist, but I love reading, can write a wicked Haiku, and occasionally attempt to write something interesting for an online magazine.
My imagination and creativity may have dwindled to nearly nothing since I was a child, but my appreciation and love for the things people birth using theirs remains intact. In fact, I would argue that I appreciate creativity more because I have almost none. Personally, my imagination doesn’t need me to be an artist, musician, or writer to be fulfilled; only to have the eyes, ears, and heart to appreciate all the creative and imaginative things I encounter.
And in those rare moments when my imagination does start to tingle a little more than usual, I might briefly wonder where Max would be if he were real or jump really high just to check to see if I can fly.