When I was a kid I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be my future self. I used to conduct ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ style interviews with myself. I was always a successful writer or stand-up. Always self-deprecating but charming and respected. In these scenarios I was in that quintessential stage of personal or professional bliss where I could speak about my life or career with a sense of authority minus the irony or condescension. I had an active and healthy imagination. As a child I remember that my cousins and I, or neighborhood kids and I would always create elaborate war games, or hide and seek games. We built forts and explored in the woods. We rode bikes and climbed trees. We built community and entire worlds that only existed between us. Our own micro universes with language and culture. Even when I was alone I remember building cities with Legos or blocks, and being really anal-retentive when it came to scale. The bus cannot be smaller than the sports car! When it came to my Hot Wheels, there was no room for absurdity. It was really, really fun. I’m biased, obviously, but I feel that we were lucky to grow up in the early to mid 90s. Unbeknownst to myself and the people burned into those memories we were taking advantage of one of life’s truest and most fleeting stages of development: Being a kid; enjoying childhood.
Even into my early teens I used to spend a great deal of time in my own head. Hashing out ideas and theories. Practicing debates. Most of my daydreaming was spent creating scenes or scenarios in which I was explaining or debating my stance on issues. I would spend days and weeks fine tuning my arguments; exploring the other side of my own positions. I read a lot and listened to music. I tried as hard as I could to consume content that had meaning. I’m pretty sure that I have always been the type of person that avoided consuming content just for the sake of consumption. I need to feel a connection with what I read or listen to, or watch on TV. I would spend hours deconstructing the world around me, all in my head. The inner confines of my mind was a pleasant place to be. This was before bills. This was before responsibilities. This was a fun time where I could go to work for a few hours a day and pump all of my money into gas for the car and CDs, and shit food with friends. The freedom that I find myself writing about so much was alive and flourishing in these times. What I wouldn’t give to go back to that sense of being, even if it’s temporary, and balanced with the hear and now.
I catch myself, more often than I’d like to admit, looking back on that time as if it is something that cannot still thrive within me. I remember when the change happened. I can remember when all that wonder and excitement and creativity stopped and the anxiety and depression started to take over. There was a definite Coup d’etat. Looking back, I can see the evidence of a rebel movement amassing strength. It’s disingenuous for me to sit here and act bewildered and dumbfounded. I sat back and allowed the take over. It was all in good faith, really. I, like many of you, did what I thought I was supposed to do. Ultimately, I committed the most egregious act of self-sabotage. I snuffed out my sense of self. The sense of wonder and curiosity that I cherished so much in childhood didn’t transition into early adulthood. It wasn’t there aiding in the construction of the person I was to become in the ‘real-world.’ I can feel the effects of this now.
As I sit in this coffee shop trying my hardest to put words on this page in a way that makes sense and holds meaning I’m having my own little epiphany. I had no idea that this post was going to follow this trajectory. I started writing with the concept ‘death of imagination.’ I’m discovering a whole new psychological angle to my current mindset and how this ‘death of imagination’ has shaped my adult life. Maybe I’ll dive into that later. For now, I want to focus on the positive gem I’m pulling from all this. That it is never too late to infuse your mental space with imagination, creativity, silliness, and wanderlust. Life can be challenging. Shit happens. Economies collapse. People we love die. Relationships come and go. Working for living can consume us. We can too easily forget how much living like a child can reignite our sense of purpose and remind us who we are, or more importantly, who we can be. A child’s brain sees no barriers to success. In my late teens, to be a smart-ass I used to tell people I wanted to be a Fire Truck when I grew up. This project is allowing me to explore the restrictions that I have constructed that have prevented me from being the loudest and shiniest Fire Truck around. The older I get the more I yearn for a lifestyle built around fun, and enjoyment, and meaning. I miss being a kid. Living as an ‘adult’ hasn’t really paid off (figuratively or literally). It’s time to try something different. I’m going to spend more time revisiting my child brain. Who knows, I may even relearn how to enjoy the inside of my own skull again.