From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought for today – “When there’s snow on the ground I like to pretend that I’m walking on clouds.” (Ikkaku, Hosaka & Kawabata).
We use the word pretend when we are children and it is a fun thing to do. Sometimes children will use the phrase “play like”; but they are really pretending. It is the ability to pretend that allows a child to take a crude approximation of a human figure and create a super hero out of it, imagining all sorts of scenarios and outcomes to pretend battles.
Pretending can be a great pastime and is probably actually good for us; no matter what age we happen to be. As adults we oft choose to use other words, liker daydreaming or imagining. Every time the Mega-Millions jackpot gets really huge people daydream about what they might do with the money if they won. Do you? I certainly have spent my share of time in thought about that topic. It’s fun and it’s a release from everyday life.
Retaining the ability to pretend is important for good mental health in adults. Now, that is not to say that people who have moved beyond pretending and who may be living in deep delusion are mentally healthy – quite the opposite. But, the ability to drift off into a daydream or to sit quietly and explore an imaginary scenario or world in our minds can be a healthy release of day-to-day tensions.
I’ve written before about the need occasionally regress to one’s childhood pleasures, such as making a funny face in the mirror in the morning while shaving or perhaps engaging in a pillow fight with a loved one. As we get older, most of us get very good at controlling ourselves and bottling up our feelings and emotions. We do that because we are told that this is what adults must do; and, when we are children, we do so want to be accepted as adults.
As adults when we look around in social settings there is no one sticking out their tongue at someone else or making funny faces (at least no one who is sober), so we adopt the behavior of the crowd of other adults around us, because we want to fit in. In general and in public, that’s a good thing. It’s also a stifling thing, because to means we must constantly repress the child in all of us who just wants to come out and play once in a while.
We all need to find that inner child and let him/her out once in a while; whether it be making that funny face in the mirror or finding other ways to get back in touch with that innocent level of joy and fun. I’ve known a few artists in my life and have noted that many of them still let that childish side come out in how they dress or act. They can pull that off, because everyone allows a bit more eccentricity in artists. I think that what we call eccentricity is really a little of their childish side expressing itself through their dress and that’s a wonderful thing. To be an artist is really to learn to capture and use your imagination through your art. If you listen to great sculptors they will often say that they could “see” the sculpture that they created even as they stood in front of a large, blank slab of granite. Painters, too, have the ability to see (imagine) what they are about to paint, even as they stare at a blank canvas.
Most of the widely acknowledged motivational speakers on the topics of self-improvement or success in life use the term “visualize”, which is just another way of saying pretend. They say you must visualize what you want to achieve – you must imagine it. They never use the term daydream, because that is too passive; but many use phrases like, “if you can visualize it; you can accomplish it.” Great athletes also often talk about visualizing what they want to accomplish. Sometimes they go over and over something in their minds, imagining what will happen and what they will do. Perhaps these are examples of what happens when the adult creeps back into a process that starts with the child in us all pretending; or, perhaps it is a case of the child finding a way to break out and have a little fun pretending in the adult. Let’s hope it is the latter. Now, please excuse me; I feel the need to run to the bathroom and make a funny face in the mirror.