Tuesday, April 15

Where Does The Wonder Go?

I finished Alice In Wonderland this morning...she's quite a peculiar girl. She has an incredible imagination (as I suppose most children do), but she's also very argumentative and impertinent. Granted, the creatures she's interacting with are also very argumentative and I can emphathize with her occasional frustration, but nonetheless, she's an interesting little girl. Her adventures in Wonderland made me wonder what happens to our imagination as we get older. As children, we can have hours of fun with a couple friends and a front lawn, on a playground, or in a sandpit - even without trucks and buckets. But as we get older, it seems to me that adults need constant stimulation or entertainment, and there is certainly a lack of 'play'.

In his essay Self-Reliance, Emerson writes,
What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and behaviour of children, babes, and even brutes! That divided and rebel mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these have not....But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account.

Children play and act freely, without regard for consequences or the opinions of others. As we get older, we allow the opinions of others to rule our actions - to a point that is detrimental, I think. We learn 'proper' behavior - what is appropriate or not, what is regarded as strange or wierd; and we live our lives by these rules.

I decided to cruise the net for some more thoughts, and came upon this article. The author provides this possible explanation: (I encourage you to read the whole article - it's both interesting and thought provoking)
Still, we might ask, why do children explore the far and fantastic possible words instead of the close-by sensible ones? The difference between adults and children is that for most adults, most of the time, imagination is constrained by probability and practicality. When we adults use our everyday theories to create possible worlds, we restrict ourselves to the worlds that are likely and the worlds that are useful. When we adults create a possible world, we are usually considering whether we should move in there and figuring out how we can drag all our furniture with us.

But for human children, those practical requirements are suspended, just as the jungle laws of tooth and claw are suspended for young wolves. Children are as free to consider the very low-probability world of Narnia as the much higher-probability world of next Wednesday's meeting—as free to explore unlikely Middle-earth as the much more predictable park next door.

What would it take to break free of the constraints of the practical and think in the realms of the possible, despite a lack of practicality; or even the impossible - what can it hurt? Thoughts? Comments?

Goal for Wednesday: Spend the train ride to work just imagining...all things possible and impossible.

PS - Having finished Alice In Wonderland, I started into A Study In Scarlet on the way home. Please excuse me if my tone and style of blogging changes as I read through different books...I have a tendancy to pick up and adapt to the writing style I am immersed in as I experience it.

1 comment:

Crabby McSlacker said...

What a great goal for the train ride! Grown ups spend way too much time in the practical, and even our "fantasies" are not usually very imaginative.

I'll have to give this a shot too!