“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
I was fortunate to be raised by a mother who encouraged her daughters to create their own worlds. My mother not only prepared my sisters and I for the real world ahead, but gave us the tools and ability to think outside of this world; to imagine infinite possibilities that may exist in this life. Although on the surface this imagination she shared with us may appear to be a book of silly fairy tales – it is far, far more. The imagination my mother gave me is the exact reason as to why I feel I can dream big and make anything possible.Gloria Steinem said, “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
Growing up, my mother would read us Brother’s Grimm fairy tales before bed; sending us to sleep with thoughts of princesses, dragons, and mysterious fairies fluttering within the river beds of the nearby forest.
Our dress code had no limits. We were encouraged to wear whatever we wanted. I walked out of my childhood farmhouse wearing everything from a pink sweatsuit thrown under a yellow dress with Velcro sneaks, to striped leggings, fairy wings, a headband that way far too large, and watermelon slip on shoes. We created outrageous ideas of worlds far away, and within those ideas, we created ourselves.
My mother exposed my sisters and I to the physical world around us. We did not sit inside and play video games. Although in later years my father would try to buy our love with small electronic devices, the majority of our childhood was spent outside. We explored the forest, played in waterfalls, chopped wood, did farm chores, and simply ran around outside playing games of “tag” or “hide and go seek”. Most of these games were played in the nude (My parents did receive a call or two here and there from passing neighbors…). I remember playing with toy trucks in a sand pile my parents had created during the winter months plowing the driveway. At the time I thought I was bulldozing and hauling rocks from the large (very unexciting) pile of sediment…I now have come to the realization that it may have been my parent’s way of removing the cat and dog poop from the pile… Adult creativity in action.
In addition to ordinary childhood games, I definitely took part in many activities that my current friends were never exposed to. Many activities which people find very odd. I find them fascinating. If you know me, you probably understand my odd behavior. You most likely have made fun of me a time or two, but are well aware that, well, these behaviors are what make me Becca. My mother showed us how to make wax candles, small felt gnomes, and elaborate fairy homes in our back woods. I remember searching for the perfect tree stump for a home. I remember spending hours gathering the perfect sticks for a walkway, or the perfect moss for a small bed. I remember returning to the fairy homes the days following the creation to see if there were any signs of use. Some days there would be small pile of pine cone “kernels” left in the entry way – most likely a chipmunk, but at the time…definitely a fairy.
Even today, at age 26, I have moments when I want to disappear into the forest and build a fairy home, or pretend I am a princess in a castle of pillows I created in my cozy bedroom tower. Some days I want to return to the “Enchanted Forest” that my younger sister and I discovered one day in our back woods. An oasis we stumbled upon one day while venturing through the forest behind our home. A magical place that was hidden among the trees, woven within trickling waterfalls and swirling stream pools. An oasis covered in the most vibrant green moss. An unquestionable home for any form of life that existed in our forest. Perhaps my desire for these fantastical worlds is more of a desire to escape reality. Or, perhaps, it is my way of exercising my mind and renewing a sense of creativity and calmness. Perhaps this is my way of clearing my mind of negativity and reminding myself that there are so many possibilities in this world that i have yet to stumble upon.
Two years ago, I was a fairy for Halloween. Not Tinkerbell, not a princess fairy, just a fairy. I wanted to have wings and a wand. I wanted to be able to run around and be silly. I wanted to dance through the streets leaping about and singing songs. It makes me happy to do these things.
Two weeks ago I was working in the office alone, and I created a gold paper crown for myself. I wore it all day, and kept it on my desk to put on during moments of stress or when I hit a wall. For me, the mental idea of putting on a “thinking cap” makes all the difference. That, and it lightens the mood of everyone in the office. How can you NOT be happy when your co-worker is jumping around in a crown?
“A man who has no imagination has no wings.” – Muhammad Ali
My imagination has enabled me to move through life with a great hope for my future. My father is a pessimist about love, and he would always tell me that ending up with a man I love and leading a happy life was not possible. Ever since I can remember, probably around age 7, I have told him: “Dad, I will find a fairy tale ending. I will find the man of my dreams. I will end up happily ever after. And you better believe you are walking my down that aisle. And that will be one of the happiest days of your life.”
I have had my share of ups and downs – who hasn’t. However, through all the times of pain and darkness, I have managed to keep my imagination and my dreams. It has been a struggle at times, and even I have had moments when the light is difficult to see. However, the good thing about having an outrageous imagination that leads to gigantic dreams is that it makes it very, very difficult to lose sight of those dreams.
Get creative, have some imagination, dream big. After all, “Imagination should be used, not to escape reality, but to create it.” – Collin Wilson.