A Stifled Imagination

I’m going to intrigue you with a little human psychology for a moment.

If you believe the Social Learning Theorists such as Albert Bandura, which to some extent I do, then our behaviour is shaped by our parents, our siblings, and family friends from what we observe them doing and how we imitate them. Throw into this mix television, movies and story books that fuel our imagination and we have a world were our best friends are magical creatures, we live in tree top houses and we can go anywhere in the universe in just a blink of an eye.

As young children we have no real concept of acceptable behaviour or social norms and it is this freedom that allows us to walk down the street talking and singing with imaginary friends, to climb trees like they’re the gateway to hidden fortresses and to run through corn fields as we’re being chased by fire breathing dragons.

As we grow older, from childhood into adolescence, we naturally become aware of how we look, how we behave, how what we do or say may be seen by those around us. We fear being ridiculed. Our self-image becomes an important part of our lives and the creative freedom is suffocated by the “real world” left only to be slotted into the socially acceptable folder of “Weird Ideas”

What once was an everyday activity becomes unimaginable, filed away into a part of the mind labelled “things I must not do”. It is pushed so deep down inside that the magical worlds are forgotten left only to those who entertain us through movies, books, and television shows. Our imagination is filled with dreams and desires of unattainable real world events such as winning the lottery.

For those who do not live their lives with the need to be creative, this may not be a problem. For me, not knowing my future would lie in writing, allowing my imagination to be suppressed by the real world is something I may live to regret.

I wish I was twenty years younger. What kind of fantasy story could be created by the imagination of a seven year old? To step back even ten years when the world of a grown up was still so shiny and new, when I knew nothing about the term hard work, money grew on trees and falling in love was the simple beginning of happily ever after.

Of course, having life experience has its benefits. I know about alcohol, hardship, and office politics. I have learnt about grief, life conflicts, and the meaning of true intimacy. But going back into my childhood imagination, could you imagine my fantasy story created by the imagination of a seven year old with the life experience to write something so outrageously plausible? Or stepping back in time to the beginning of happily ever after, I could use my innocent frame of mind to create a character that does what he or she wanted to do and not what is expected of them. A life not tainted by the real world and it’s social norms.

My mission today, and every day, when I sit down to write is to escape the restrictions of the real world and to give my characters a life free from the expectations of what is social acceptability. After all, even Shakespeare wrote about fairies and magic.

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