Pure Imagination: the childlike mind

I work in a people-oriented profession; in particular, with children. One of my younger choirs (grade 6 & 7) inspired me to write this blog. Last week, in the midst of teaching them the music and choreography for the song ‘Puttin’ on the ritz’, I noticed something. I noticed their openness to performing. Their responsiveness told me me that it was okay to look a bit silly in front of others, in fact it seemed fun. At this stage of their youth, they were not cynical or self-conscious about singing these lyrics and dancing these moves: they were young and carefree. They seemed not to care about how they looked or sounded, they just wanted to perform and play.

It’s so uplifting to watch children sing, dance, play, and generally express themselves. Being around children keeps me young. Their energy and youthful spirit keeps me on my toes and inspires my imagination. At times, too much of their vivaciousness is challenging to manage, however, it is worth tolerating it when their faces beam with accomplishment.

I never want to forget what it is like to be a child; to be wide-eyed, filled with wonderment and inquisitiveness about so many things in the world. To create adventures in my mind, create my own puzzles, games, invent languages and imagine.

Photo: Mitcha Photography

When I was little, “Hook” (with Robin Williams) was my favourite film. I thought I could build a life-sized castle out of lego, I thought I could make it snow in Australia by scraping styrofoam, and I invented many secret languages through cryptic codes and symbols. Looking back on past journal entries, poetry, and student work from my schooling years, I giggle at my naivety but I’m happy with my childlike mind. I was a quirky, innovative, only-child who dreamt up big possibilities, mainly because I didn’t have siblings or have an easy family life. I won’t go into detail about any of that, at least for now. Nevertheless, escapism was my friend and I am still, to this day, a creative person.

I think it is so important to allow children to play, explore, and develop their imaginations. There is a lot of pressure on young people today to be academically successful, and to know what they want to be when they graduate from school. But their youth is fleeting and it must be cherished. These foundation years should be filled with stories, love, possibilities, inspiration, physical and mental challenges to develop their creativity, compassion, and resilience.

Perhaps find an object, person, or place with an element of nostalgia if you are having trouble with revisiting the childlike mind. Look at pictures of yourself when you were young and try to remember how it felt to be a child. This experience would conjure up different feelings in everyone; some pleasant and others not so much. Regardless, we should value the children in our lives because we were once in their shoes. We once sought guidance, permission to play, answers to ridiculous questions, and a better understanding of the world.

As an adult, there is still a lot I don’t understand about the world; mainly, why people are so cruel to one another. At least when I was a child, I saw cruelty towards others as wrong. Now, I still feel it is wrong but I see it justified by certain parties depending on their socio-economic background, or other elements of life’s lottery afforded to a small part of the population.

I want to protect the children in my life from injustices such as these, but I know that I cannot shield them from the ugly truths in life. One day, I may have a child of my own who asks me a difficult question. I only hope that I raise that child in a way where they can find solace from a perspective of inner peace, kindness, and critical inquiry. A child who can reflect the goodness of humanity through a loving upbringing, and having their creativity encouraged from an early age, so that they can think divergently, and see many possibilities.

This is my hope.

Everything else remains to be seen.

#play #youth #childhood #creativity #imagine

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