For the first time, I got to experience the magic (and terror) of Halloween through my three-year-old’s eyes. Last year he really did not understand what was going on but was more than delighted to accept all of the free candy.
On the Saturday before Halloween, we were walking through Boo in the Zoo, admiring the larger-than-life giraffes when he urgently shouted, “Mama, hold you, a dragon!” While his language skills are developing more quickly than I ever thought possible, he has held onto this sweet way of asking to be picked up that I wish he would never grow beyond.
Of course, I swiftly scooped him up and scanned the area for the offending dragon. Ah yes, one of those inflatable suits that first came on the scene as comical T-Rex dinosaurs where the wearer peers through a panel on the creature’s chest to make it seem larger than life. The dragon struck me as far more humorous than scary, but this moving, huge thing was as real as rain to my little boy and he was terrified. We had to talk about how dragons are not real and he awoke telling me he dreamt of scary dragons for several nights afterward.
A child’s imagination is equal parts precious and fearful as they learn to navigate the differences between reality and make-believe. But that appreciation and capacity of imagination is a joy to witness. One of my favorite quotes is from E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web. It goes, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” As we grow up and learn that the magic of Christmas is not derived from one jolly old elf and our lost teeth were not traded for treasure by an actual fairy, our ability to process wonder naturally fades.
It is a tragedy, really, to lose your imagination.
Our connection to information squashes lingering questions in our minds with data, meaning, and realities faster than we can derive our own conclusions. We are burdened by our ever-growing task lists and duties that each day brings. But what if we could tap back into that childlike state, ever so often? What could become possible?
Thrive Global, a resource dedicated to fighting burnout has good news on the subject. “Research shows you have more power than you probably realize to tap into your sense of wonder, no matter what your environment looks like … As Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, puts it, ‘Don’t underestimate the power of goosebumps.’”
I love that statement.
In our work, harnessing the power of imagination and wonder is crucial. We are storytelling, making creative meaning in our branding, and thinking of new ways to present a product, service, or cause.
When I am stuck in a rut of writer’s block wanting to work through an idea, I go outside. Ideally, I will go for a walk, but even sitting in my backyard and watching this one tree for a few minutes that has turned the perfect shade of yellow, for example, is sometimes all it takes. When you stop to take in nature and the amazing things that happen right under your nose, you can awaken the spirit of imagination and wonder.
Curiosity, wonder, and imagination are core states of being for children but we can still connect with them as adults. And when we do, the result is usually profound.