My six-year-old daughter Sophie and I were playing a rhyming game the other day and out of the blue she asked me, “Why can’t I touch the sky?” I laughed inside and thought for a few moments. I tried to explain it from the Jack and the Beanstalk story, but she just just looked at me funny. Then I tried the old earth space thing, but that was too technical. The more I tried, the clumsier it got when finally I realized I wasn’t getting through.
Then I had a realization. What if my daughter had asked the same question to another six year old? What would the other child have said? Some six year olds think they know the answer to everything and its fun to listen to what they have to say. Something tells me her friend wouldn’t have the slightest difficulty in explaining the answer. Chances are, they would have argued and discussed it until finally reaching agreement. I wished I could have turned the question over to an imaginary friend and then sit back and listen to the conversation.
That night while lying in bed, I kept thinking about her question and why I couldn’t come up with a really cool answer. Was it because I had “grown up” and now used my imagination like an “adult”? As I grew, the maturation process obviously had boxed me in. And worse yet… I knew that someday, my little girl just might lose her pure and trusting imagination to adulthood and maybe stop asking these wonderfully creative questions.
I didn’t feel like it was right that I progressed up the ladder of maturity only to lose what I feel is a very important concept: the ability to retain and possess a childlike quality to explore other possibilities. Where did my childlike imagination go? Why did it go? I thought I would ask Sophie this question to help me understand why some adults tend to lose sight of this magical way of thinking and why others make a living by it.
She looked at me with a puzzle on her face and then I knew. It never occurs to her that there’s any other way. Why on earth would a six-year-old little girl dream she couldn’t touch the sky unless somebody told her she couldn’t?
I watch my little girl as she plays. She conducts an imaginary reading class and makes sure each doll pronounces the words correctly. She dresses her babies and gets them ready for they’re day. Her imagination takes wing each and every day to places I’m not aware. Sometimes I can catch a glimpse of her inner world when we sit and talk about her day or what her plans are for tomorrow.
Remember when we were younger, when we used to talk about and imagine what we would become when we grew up? I wanted to be a policeman and my friends wanted to be fireman and race car drivers. We believed anything was possible and we could become whatever we wanted, never doubting the possibilities. As children, we dreamed big.
Children are visionaries and it seems a little sad to think our childlike imagination seems to disappear, as we grow older. As we age, the ever-increasing intrusions of the world on our minds seem to frighten that childlike imagination into full-blown retreat.
As we grew up, we learned why the sky really is blue, and why grass is green. Why flowers need sunlight and how birds really fly. We lose a little bit of the wonder of life around us as we schedule the next meeting or plan tomorrow’s agenda.
I have my daughter to thank for asking her question. It connected me, once again, with my priorities. She made me think about my own potentiality and how I may be limiting myself. Maybe I need to reconnect with my childlike imagination and think more outside the box of adult creativity. If I do that, maybe I can explain in my own six-year-old way, why she can touch the sky.