Thank you for joining me over here again! Today’s chapter is about “shoulds” and the way our imagination is shaped as we grow up.
Our lives are directed with so many “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” today. We should eat this, we should stay in work longer, we should get to the gym three times a week. We are taught from a very young age that we can’t live our lives the way we desire when this is not the case! Even if others feel it ought to be this way, if it doesn’t sit right and you have to push too much in order to achieve that “should” goal, then it may not be the best way for you to be.
Children have such beautiful imaginations and our society limits them by the time they reach adulthood. We have television that fills in all the gaps in stories so we never have to think for ourselves, and free time is constantly filled with doing instead of being and allowing imaginations to wander freely. School curriculum often leaves no time for questioning or deviating from the script of lessons. Convergent thinking (only one correct answer) is encouraged whilst divergent thinking (open expression) is valued less when this is the path that is vital to our progression.
When I was younger, the stories I used to love reading were those that told of magic, myths and adventures and I was so lucky to have been encouraged in this by my family. I reached Secondary School though and a teacher told me I shouldn’t be reading such books and should be studying more serious works. I looked up to her so I agreed and gave up my beloved stories as being babyish. I know now that this was a mistake! Surely it was a joy that I loved reading?! I was drawn to those books for a reason. They weren’t winning any awards for best writing, but they fired my imagination and gave me a place to escape to when school was hard. After that, I stopped reading for the pure love of it. I carried on reading of course, continued on all the way through to two English degrees but I never truly enjoyed it, save for a few novels. It has only been the last couple of years since I joined my local library that my true love for reading has returned. I now read books that jump out at me, not just the ones in the ‘Classics’ section.
If you have children in your life- your own or nieces, nephews, little brothers and sisters, a friend’s child…help them to keep their imaginations strong. If they tell you a fantastical story, let them run wild with it, don’t say it doesn’t sound realistic. If you’re a teacher, remember you’re in the most important job in the world- you’re in charge of guiding our future. Do you want a future filled with creative possibilities or a dull, grey robotic one? We can all help our children and feed their imaginations and in doing so we will open our own. Time spent with a fresh mind, will re-fresh your own.
If we’re drawn to something- a book, a band, a place, a way of living- it’s because something within it calls out to our soul. We mustn’t ignore that feeling or we risk losing our inner fire and will be forever stuck in a world of “shoulds” and “have tos”. Whatever your age, use your inventiveness and creativity! Paint, write, sing, read books where you can transport yourself to new, exciting places in your mind. This creates a better world for us all, because we are only limited by the range of our own imagination so we must expand it to be able to build a beautiful life! Have a wonderful, imaginative week all!