Friday, May 05, 2006

A Precious Gift

A parent has so much to give their child. Love, acceptance, knowledge just to skip along the surface. But there is something I see so many parents today snuffing out for whatever reason, something natural to children, something that can set them free, take them on amazing journeys, open possibilities of dreams and assure they would never be bored. (Unless they are set on being bored that is.) It's imagination.

Imagination is a tool kids can use to escape for just a little while this crazy world we're all stuck in. To sit and watch the clouds, imagining the shapes of all kinds of things. To stare at the stars on a clear night and imagine things happening beyond our reach. C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Madeleine L'Engle, just to name a few big names, these authors knew how to carry their readers to new lands and make the story become real.

So why do I see so many children who wouldn't read one of these authors for any reason, why did the Chronicles of Narnia get a resounding "BOOOO" when the school chose it as the movie to show on rewards day? My girls loved it. I've nurtured their imaginations so nothing to them is "weird" -- it's fun.

But with more and more kids drooling over Survivor, Big Brother, Lost and the like and toys like tea sets and baby dolls no longer a big thing compared to electronic talking stuffed animals, mechanical pets and all, are we all coming dangerously close to erasing the value of an imagination?

Why shouldn't a tree limb become a horse, a backyard become another world in midieval times and a cloud become a dragon? Why shouldn't they enjoy Middle Earth and travel with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins or Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edward in Narnia and enjoy it immensely?

I nurtured my own imagination out of boredom as a child. I admit, spending most of my time on an 1800's farm made it easy. As an adult, I'm glad it's still intact. I can see faces in the tile ceiling patters and in trees. Sure, I know it's just the pattern of bark, but it can really add some interesting aspects to a fictional story.

It's important to let kids dream, to encourage them to sail among the clouds in their day dreams maybe even more so today than it was years ago. Kids are under a lot more stress today than ever before. Nurturing an imagination to get their focus off tragedies, dangers and the ugly side of human nature could only be a good thing in my opinion.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Simple Things

Things have come in waves lately. I'll have a few days were I twiddle my thumbs, accomplishing little more than some laundry and cleaning. Then I'll have days where I have three different tasks to do simultaneously on the computer. Mostly I do ok with juggling several things at once. I mean, I do have kids, juggling tasks is mandatory for moms. And I'm not complaining really, I appreciate the work and the challenges. And I also appreciate the down times.

This morning, since we are in a real dry spell in my area, I carried water to some new plants and trees. Putting it in buckets uses less than spraying the gardens with the hose. I found myself in my backyard, surrounded by a cluster of trees, and birds. Two Cardinals fluttering in a bush, Robins, House Wrens and more. No other noise.

This was a surprise. There's been more tree-clearing and shed-building going on all over the place here and I'd gotten use to constant chain sawing, lawn mowing, tractor roaring, and nail hammering. This morning, there was none. Just the sun, a breeze, the trees, birds, my slumbering dog and me. I learned all over again why I love my back yard :)

I had work to do, had to spend the afternoon in front of the computer again, but surprisingly the entire time, scenes for my next book came alive in my mind. I hit a sticking point with it a few weeks back when life piled other things on me. Made me glad I didn't set a deadline for this story, but it seems I'll be up late typing tonight. Another good thing.

All I needed was some down time away from everything to get back on track. Life is funny that way. Sometimes we just need to take a few steps back, away from all the other stuff. Something as simple as sitting under trees and watering flowers can clear a mind more than anything else I know.