Children are literally force-fed wonder. And all too often, the dose is administered with a spoon full of sugar.
It's everywhere in their lives. In stories, in school, for the holidays. In their games and toys. In their books, movies, and computer games. On their sheets and cereal boxes. From the very early, talking, anthropomorphic animals, to princesses and dragons and all the fairy tales, and on to the whole complex world of Santa Claus as well as the darker side of wonder—ghost stories and the supernatural. All great stuff.
Yet too often it's a grown-up trying to use the lure of wonder to sculpt a child into a certain picture of goodness. And instead of really grappling with life's issues, they sugarcoat it with false dichotomies and over-simplistic logic. Other times, it's well-intentioned adults trying to bring kids happiness and positive stimulation. And that's great, too, but unfortunately it's also a trap.
Because first we're heavily encouraged to believe in imagination and all kinds of things that don't exist. The fun never stops. It's all beautiful, and happy, and exciting, and well, wonderful. Bliss, bliss. Until...
[screeching of tires]
We're suddenly stupid and childish for believing in them. Then suddenly having anything to do with imagination becomes the worst thing you can do. Lie, steal, cheat, hit, curse. Those are supposed to be no-nos, but nothing compared to the flack you will get for exercising your imagination of the fantastic as a teen or an adult. A bad-boy or a bad girl is cool and looked up to; a geek or a nerd is a total loser. They are ostracized, harassed, beaten, humiliated. You can bully people. And that's okay. Get girls drunk to sleep with them. That's okay, too. But play D&D and oh. my. gods, you're the lowest of the low.
FCI—fantasy, creativity and imagination—are actually not crimes. They are an inherent part of every single human being on the planet.
They bring us joy and refreshment. They stretch our thinking and our picture of the world, keeping it limber and flexible. Keeping us more open-minded and tolerant. They help keep empathy and compassion flowing. They generate new ideas and fresh perspectives. And they are a tremendous amount of fun.
Does it really make sense to steer clear of experiencing wonder just because you're no longer a child?
Take them back.
Now that you're older and have more experience, you can strip out all the sugary badness (meaning the over-simplistic moralizing and the false promises) and see through the lies. And you can make wonder your own.
Take back the wonder, and return the shame.
I'm not just an advocate for play, but for FCI.
FCI, meaning fantasy, creativity and imagination.
And I'm not talking about the more passive uses of them – like being an observer to entertainment (watching TV or movies or other performances) – but active, playful use that engages your own FCI and the FCI of others.
We have this love-hate attitude toward fantasy, creativity and imagination, where it's practically been ground out of most people, but then a few others who practice it are as good as worshipped for it. The average person in a band or who writes or paints is seen as a wanna-be – as a *not* star, rather than understanding how good it is for people to use their FCI for no other reason but for themselves. For personal enrichment. For fun. To play. It's a quality of life thing, and so much more.
Below, one of the members of Monty Python speaks about creativity and part of why it gets so discouraged and stigmatized, and does it with charming wit and humor, as well as some sharp-edged insight. Thanks to Amy Woods, who shared this presentation by John Cleese:
Play isn't the same thing as FCI, but it definitely involves one or more of them. And like play, all of them do get discouraged pretty harshly as we grow up. While on the one hand we see teachers at school with signs that say things like creative minds are the ones that change the world, other people come down on us for showing almost any sign of FCI with anger, humiliation, and threats of being branded and isolated – until one by one we give up on most of the fantasy/creativity/imagination we loved and enjoyed. But not all.
I want to know what FCI you've kept in your life?
Amber Michelle Cook's Blog
A call to all grown-ups everywhere: Play!