My eyelids were heavy like lead and my head felt dizzy. The pillow so frequently used had never before felt so comfortable. Fluffy but not too soft. Thin but not too flat. It was perfect. I could feel a sense of calm sweep in as my surroundings slowly started to blur. Lights out.
At the end of the dim hallway was a heavy door that I had opened and shut more than a million times. The hinges were tight and the wood was rough, but with a little push it creaked open, giving way to a long and narrow room.
The silence was deafening except for the clicking of my shoes and the ticking of the clock that hung on the far wall.
Soon the hallways and rooms would be filled with the laughter of young girls and chit chatter of the latest gossip doing it rounds. The sun’s rays that poured in through the oversized windows seemed to do its own dance, illuminating the room. I stood in its path trying to soak in the warmth. The row of steel beds lined on either sides of the room shone even brighter exposing unnoticed creases on a few of the green and white checked bed covers.
I lay flat on one of the beds and stared at the large wooden beams secured high above imagining them to be long arms stretched out to create an invisible shield around the room. I subconsciously reached for under the pillow hoping to find a stash of vouchers for the school canteen or better yet, a hidden chocolate bar. As I pulled myself up and ran my fingers across the bed cover, I realized for the first time how textured and heavy they were.
I gingerly walked toward a window, careful not to step on the pair of black shoes neatly polished and set next to the bed. Lucky for me the fog had cleared early today, and I could see the lush green hills at the distance. A soft breeze found its way, and I caught myself once again entranced by the serenity of the untouched nature around me and the pureness of every breath.
“The sun is up! The sun is up!, shouted a distant voice. Before I could wrap my head around it, four little feet were bouncing up and down next to me. Ah! If only I could have kept dreaming. It felt so real. But what’s stopping me from continuing to let my mind be free and view the world like a big coloring book?
The amusing thing about a dream is that there are no boundaries. You could be in Paris one minute and Zimbabwe the next. You could be in a mall surrounded by people one minute and stranded on a desert the next. Anything is possible and your imagination is the limit.
My daughter and I have a fun game we play almost every morning where we ask each other about our dreams. Neither of us ever has any recollection of it but we spend a couple of minutes conjuring up some incredible stories. They stretch from rides on green and white zebras to dancing with clowns to swimming with Nemo.
Encouraging a child’s creative mind builds so many key social and cognitive skills. Their minds are free from all blockages and aren’t adulterated by the experiences that we feel defines us as adults. They observe everything with a fascinated eye and it amazes me how pure and different their thinking is. You and I see an Oak tree in our way. A child sees a large tree trunk with branches stretched out like the fingers on our hand. They see newborn leaves ready to go through the changes of the seasons. They see a squirrel’s home and a bird’s safe haven.
To meet the high expectations from elementary schools and the competition that exists to secure admission even into Kindergarten (yes … as ridiculous as it is, you did read right), many pre-schools are changing their syllabus. More time is spent on teaching words, numbers and reading techniques and less time is spent on honing their creative minds. Are we starting the process of ‘training’ too soon that we are burning out the minds of our children? Is there some correlation to this and why more kids are dropping out of college these days?
We often associate an imaginative mind to children; a childlike characteristic where typically there is no need for any self-control. Its not that we as adults can’t also revel in such a world. We are just too mature and responsible that such uncontrolled imaginations would embarrass us.
A popular quote from Picasso reads, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when they grow up”. Let’s dream big, folks and look for magic through our imagination. Let’s enter a world where our promises are endless and the impossible is possible. Even if only for a few moments, let’s be child-like.
“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” – Albert Einstein