Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Death of Imagination

Do you remember when you were a kid, before the internet, ipods, and xbox? What did you do to entertain yourself? I'll bet you probably used your imagination. In fact, I'll bet your imagination was intimately tied into your physical activities. I'll bet you were Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader, or Tarzan swinging on the rope swing in the back yard, or Bo and Luke Duke jumping over mud puddles with your BMX bike. You probably became all of your favorite characters, heros, or animals and you acted out their stories (your version of their stories) through physical, imaginative play. 

Imaginative play is one of the greatest tools a child has when it comes to becoming healthy and strong. It is the tool that makes moving and learning fun, the tool that nourishes the brain and the body. Do you remember all the crusades and adventures you once embarked on as a child? Do you remember when monkey bars and trees were made to be climbed, or "lived" in? When grass was made to put stains on your clothes from learning how to slide from a full sprint? Do you remember when you were the star quaterback of your favorite team and you led them to win the Super Bowl? There was a time, when your joy, your movement and your life was intimately tied to your ability to imagine and create adventures in your mind.

Once upon a time, we were all superheros, space cowboys, pirates on the run, or even damsels in distress. Once upon a time, we lived for adventure and we had the bodies that were ready and able for those adventures. 

Then one day, we let our imaginations slip away. At some point we decided that just watching adventures was as good as being in them. We decided that we could "play" and "imagine" through video games, or movies, constantly instead of getting up and acting them out. Somehow, some way, we traded our active, creative imaginations for passive, gluttoness  imaginations. We have starved our brains ability to create and our bodies ability to move by neglecting our imaginations. 

Do you know how to tell if your imagination is broken? Boredom. That is the word and the symptom of a broken imagination. Today, we live in a broken, bored world. Look around, you will see bored children everywhere. No matter your condition today, you were better off as a kid when you were growing up than today's kids are. There are so many imagination starvers and robbers in our world today, our children will have to fight for their health - both mentally and physically. 

It is easy to blame technology for killing our imagination and ruining our health and the health of our children, but that is an easy way to try to escape responsibility. The truth is, it's our fault. We don't force our kids to go outside and play anymore like our parents made us. We don't let our kids play dodgeball anymore because someone is being made a target. We don't let kids swing on monkey bars anymore because they might fall and get hurt. Pretty soon (and it's funny cause it's true) we won't allow our kids to run anymore because they may trip, or hurt their knees, or break a sweat. We are stifling our children's play and imagination because we have placed ourselves in a world of fear and complacency. We need to let our children, make our children, go outside and use their imaginations. We, ourselves, need to learn how to become space cowboys again. 

There is an abandoned world of movement and health that is waiting to be rediscovered - a world of imaginative play and movement that can unlock a reality of health, life and adventure. Think about it, Babe Ruth hit his way into history because he could imagine himself hitting homeruns. Michael Jordan became the greatest, most graceful basketball player in our day because he could imagine himself dominating the court. We need to fix our imaginations. Our imaginations guide us into the worlds we want to conquer. If we allow them to starve, if we accept boredom, we are doomed and we doom our children as well.