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Reclaiming Your Imagination

By Remy Benoit

"The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope."—H.W. Beeche

Once upon a time, when my children were small, I dug out all the grass from my front yard and replaced it with pathways, garden areas of different elevations and textures of plants, and an old class project castle from a high school student. Then I "seeded" the garden with miniature dinosaurs. My children and others from the neighborhood spent many delightful hours in Dinosaur Land.

When a neighbor gave me a large pile of bricks that had been sitting a long time unused in his back yard they became building blocks for all kinds of afternoon adventures as the children grew and their hands were big enough to handle them.

Can you look back to the days when a feather in your hat made you Robin Hood; when a sword, or a tree branch swung as one made you a knight of the Round Table using your "Might for Right?" Can you recall how absolutely delicious the tea and cakes were on tiny plastic service cups and dishes?

Do you recall the wonder of a pile of old clothes, hats, shoes that allowed you the freedom to "dress up" and play out the role of the new persona those garments brought out in you?

Do you feel a smile forming on your face as the memories come? Probably you do. But somewhere in there too there may be a not so pleasant memory of the day you didn't get picked to be on the side that you wanted to be; or didn't get to wear the hat you wanted to that day; or your created "character" was not treated well by the other children.

Perhaps there was the day when you came downstairs ready for school decked out in what you thought was an absolutely sensational outfit, only to be sent back to your room to change after being told that no way were you leaving the house looking like THAT.

Were you one of us guilty of coloring the leaves of a tree bright pink, only to be told leaves were green?

Have you been told on the job, DO NOT be creative, do only what you are told? Were you told at school to finish endless sentences on endless routine papers that not only did not encourage original thought, but actively discouraged it?

Did you go through Boot Camp and Advanced Individual Training understanding their purpose to keep you alive, but losing some of you in there somewhere?

Can you place into some kind of order the things like this that occurred in your life and once you have done that begin to see where your imagination and creativity have gone?

But the real question is, Are they really gone, or are they just dormant, waiting for you to come and reclaim them? And reclaim them you can.

But first you must forgive others and yourself for pushing them into the background of your life, your heart and your soul. You must tell them that they are welcome to come home, to come out to play, and then you must take them out to play. You must take them walking, cutting and pasting, photographing, smiling and running and jumping. Think about what type of environment best relaxes you, lets the cares of the day and the world slip away and take you and your imagination to that place.

Are you a mountain person? Can you take time enough to find a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, stock up a back pack, find a strong enough walking stick and head out just to be with the natural power and beauty of the mountain side? Can you imagine yourself a bear with the winter coming looking for a cave to sleep well in? Can you take yourself back to the place of the pioneers who crossed this country and had to find a way through or around a range that blocked their way? What time of year would you like to be in that Conestoga caravan? How would different weather impact on the success or failure of your journey? Can you become a miner, digging deeper and deeper into the side of the mountain, finding gold, silver, or the disappointment of fool's gold? Can you become one of the People whose Creator resides in the flesh of the mountain?

Or are you a placid lake person; a person who thrills to the voice of Loons crossing the lake; the kind of person who enjoys the water's tender ripple onto the tiny stoned waterline?

Do the lights, noise, traffic, and people of urban environments thrill you? Do you enjoy the nighttime dance of neon lights on rain soaked streets, the sounds of taxi doors shutting as you pull them to you?

Do you need to just simply sit down on the grass again, instead of just seeding, watering, cutting, and raking it? When exactly was the last time you just sat down on the grass and watched the gifted colors of a sunset or sunrise?

When was the last time period, that you just sat down with nothing in your hands, nothing blaring on the tube in front of you? When was the last time you just sat down without a phone, a cell phone, a beeper, or anyone actually knowing where you were for a full ten minutes?

When was the last time you asked yourself, Can I come out to play?

Do whatever it takes to feed and honor your imagination. You are never too old to start a leaf, rock or shell collection. You are never too old to buy yourself a drawing tablet and see where your sketches take you. Surround them with words, phases, thoughts, and let them take you where they will. They will lead you back to the day's when you leaped off the third step up on the front walk as a gold-arringed pirate or lived the music as a Romany dancing girl.

Let go of all the other stuff to find the real thing, the imagination, creativity, and joy at the center. And then, share that treasure, bring it out into the light of day to shine.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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