Imagination is a curious and powerful thing. As adults, I think we tend to lean toward “creativity” as a substitute. It implies imagination and does not seem to have close association with that childish term “fantasy”. It feels “artistic”. It sounds mature. I consider myself to be “creative”. I have identified “innovative” solutions. In fact, both words appear in my job description. But, when I lay down in the floor the other day to play Legos with Jaden, I realized just how far creativity is from imagination. I see imagination as a mental muscle. If it is not nurtured, it will surely atrophy. As a kid I used it all the time. Today I see it being fully exercised in our boys. Logan has bins full of Legos and could create the most incredible spaceships, vehicles, robots, or weapons with very little effort and without a template or guide. He now devours books, writes occasionally, and is very much into activities that require the suspension of disbelief. Ethan drives cars and flies planes all over the house and likes to go outside at night to say goodnight to the moon and stare up at the stars. His little mind is soaking up all the possible impossibilities, and I can’t wait to see what develops. Jaden and Dillon will sit and paint pictures and sceneries for hours on whatever canvas is available – paper plates, printer paper, etc. – and take photos from very interesting perspectives. They have created a race of Lego people and are constantly tinkering with those toys, constructing whatever comes to mind.
I stared into the pile of Legos for a good 20 minutes before I even reached for a single piece. Jaden had built and destroyed several figures in that time. I watched him as he scanned the pile and would reach for a few and consider each while quickly assembling the desired pieces and letting the others fall. Logan had a similar approach. He would begin with a few pieces and then let it develop into his final creation. It was like he wasn’t always sure what he was going to make until he held the final product in his hand… like his imagination guided him along the path and let him know when he had arrived.
I felt a familiar sensation in my mind as I came across a square piece with an axle and two wheels on it. Imagination was stirring… more pieces came to mind… I had an image of a finished product. Jaden watched me raking through the pile with what appeared to be a satisfied grin on his face as he continued to build. Finally, my creation was complete. I offered it to Jaden for his approval. Dillon came in to join us and saw what I made. He grabbed it and the argument over who would get to use it began. Success! My imagination produced a toy worthy of contention… I hadn’t lost it completely – yet. I quickly made another one, and will be adding this exercise to my schedule with my personal trainers.