Christmas morning was a special experience for me as a young child.
Three hundred and sixty five days of anticipation build into one night. I’d struggle to fight off sleep, yearning for the sound of sleigh bells on the roof. My efforts would prove futile as I drifted off, only to awake in the blink of an eye. I’d shake off the last remnants of sleep and spend the next two minutes in an enlightened state of being as I raced to discover what awaited that morning.
I was fully captured by the possibilities, the anticipation, the excitement. My imagination was fully engaged.
I now have the privilege of watching this drama play out through the eyes of my three young daughters on Christmas morning. The expressions on their faces are my favorite part. Their rosy cheeks, still warm from sleep, can’t fully hide their excitement as they race to discover what awaits them.
These are magical moments, moments that we dismiss as rare and special far too easily. As adults, we are content to leave these moments to children, telling ourselves that we have transcended the need to entertain such simplistic tendencies.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent enough time with “adults” and they can keep their unimaginative maturity.
What strikes me further about imagination and an experience like Christmas morning is the depth of it. A child on Christmas morning is fully engaged in the imagination of the moment. They aren’t participating half-heartedly, they are locked in a dance with awe and wonder at a level that adults seem to slowly lose the ability appreciate.
The question I ask myself is, “What has the ability to capture my imagination produce an experience at that level?”. Our world is so completely filled with fascinating sights and experiences that we’ve become numb to the works of imagination around us. We’ve scalded our imagination to famous architecture, insightful art or even a beautiful landscape for the hum drum monotony of life.
Einstein famously said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination”. We observe this in children, yet struggle to reconnect with it as adults. This says to me that our struggle for imagination is not an effort of learning something new, but reclaiming what the process of maturity has seemingly stolen. Seeing adults go through this process of rediscovering their imagination captures mine and gives me tremendous hope.
What captures your imagination so completely that time seems to stand still?