In the entrance of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was an exhibit of miniature towns, figurines, and other toy-like things. Children loved this section of the museum. It was hard to move through this area without walking into small children with tunnel vision. They see these collections of beautifully made toys set up in creative little worlds and they have one goal in life: get as close as possible.
It was interesting to see the “grown-ups” here. Some of them seemed to have lost their child natures somewhere in life. They seemed bored, understanding ever so slightly the allure of silly toys. They are children, children like toys, simple as that right? Others, however, still had that connection with their children and even other children. They had the understanding that, to the children, these were not merely still-life exhibits of toys, but the representation of motion, the illusion of a fabalistic life of which they are a part. The imagination. It is one of the most powerful forces on this Earth, and many times it seems most powerful in children.
When I was a kid, my toys were not just toys. They were people in many ways. They had personalities, they had roles within the world that they lived. I did not always control them, sometimes they did what they wanted to do or did things they way they wanted to do it. The only role I played sometimes was to facilitate their movement since that was their biggest weakness. I loved my dog, but when he chewed the hands off of one of my friends, I was devastated. How could I be friends with someone sick and deranged enough to chew the hands off of an innocent G.I. Joe?
I am not going to lie, if there was no glass separating the miniatures from my hands, I would have touched them. I am not ashamed to say it either. And I know that there was more than a few other “grown-ups” in there that felt the same. To those who were bored, who felt that going to the astronomy section would be more suiting to an adult’s needs, grow up. It is ok to use your imagination. If you do not feel comfortable imagining where those caravan carts are going or what they are carrying, try imaging what the children are imagining them to be carrying. At the very least, ask them what they think and then try to imagine that. It is good exercise because, like your physical body, your imagination is a muscle and it will grow weak and one day, it will fail you. When that day comes, you will be reduced to only factual things that you cannot change, like word problems and the news.
You have to get old, but staying young is a choice. The old saying “You’re only as old as you feel,” is not necessarily talking about your muscles and organs. Laugh at toys, they are funny. That is the point, to make people happy. Take a step out of the strictly “real” world and dabble in the possibility of a horse driving a caravan and a group of men in tighty-whities pulling it.