This week I am putting the finishing touches on my daughter’s Halloween costume. None too soon, I know! She is dressing as her favorite movie character: Arwen Undomiel from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Can I say that I’m a bit jealous? I wouldn’t mind having my own elf princess costume (complete with pointy ears).
It sounds odd for a grown-up to be admitting that in essence she still likes to play pretend, to dress up as a different person. And maybe I am odd. But I’m not alone. In fact, our culture reveres people who convincingly pretend to be someone else. We call them actors. We also enjoy interacting with them in the realm of first-person historical interpreters at places like Colonial Williamsburg and Renaissance Faires. At Disney World they’re called cast members or performers. And of course we can’t forget the attendees of gatherings like Comic Con.
There is something inside many of us that longs to inhabit a different world, a different life. We aren’t so keen on living out the story we’re in. Or maybe we’ve just grown bored of it. We want to write a different role for ourselves.
Kids play pretend and invent roles for themselves to test out their world and explore options. They are full of expectation and possibility.
But as adults, we think we have closed doors on plotlines for ourselves. We decide we are stuck on the path we’ve taken. Which is too bad. Because as long as we’re living, aren’t there still many possibilities for how our life will go? Sure, some options may be lost to us. But we mistakenly stick with things that aren’t entirely working for us because we’ve lost the ability to imagine other possibilities.
Neuroimaging has shown that as we age, the center of cognitive gravity tends to shift from the imaginative right brain to the logical left brain… At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic. ~ Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker
Don’t neglect your imagination. Go ahead and entertain answers to questions like: if you could be or do anything, what would you choose? Then dare to answer the question of what it would take to reach that dream. Pretend for just one moment that you were actually going to step out on that other path. What would it look like?
I find as I dream of how I wish to spend life and think through step-by-step what that would look like, I start to find ways of making those steps happen. Imagination becomes reality.
That’s why I’m excited to be attending the Storyline Conference this week. I have a feeling it will ignite more of my imagination. And while it may not land me my own elf princess costume, it could lead to something even better.
How about you? When was the last time you engaged your imagination?