In the Land of Make-Believe

A castle with a turret and a drawbridge. A damsel in anything-but-distress. A fireside hearth, before which a pink and diamond-studded shoe dries on a grate. And a yarn-tailed pony, resting on its side, ready to be brought back to life by a little hand.

When I was a kid, this sort of scene would have kept me occupied for hours, as I imagined all kinds of scenarios, setting and reconfiguring this castle, moving all its occupants (Piglet included) and enacting various far-fetched daily dramas for the knights and queens and animals. In truth, I made just as much out of a cardboard box that Dad would bring home from the hospital, and never really thought to want more until I got older. I grew and fostered my imagination because I had to, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If children can’t learn to entertain themselves on their own, without fancy phones or sensory overload, they will never be satisfied as adults.

I’m starting to sound like a grumpy old man, and perhaps I am. There may be nothing new under the sun. I do wonder what’s becoming of imagination, when all the wildest experiences can be conjured on a computer screen, so readily at hand, so easily explored. Maybe I just want to go back to being a kid again. Maybe that’s what we all want in some way. Maybe that’s why children are so captivating to some of us.

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