Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Power of Imagination, and Why I Like Disneyland

A "magical" picture from a Disneyland trip several years ago
In a few weeks my youngest and I will be going to Disneyland for a few days, tacked on to the front end of a longer trip to visit my husband's family in California and attend a ministry conference. The much-older teen brothers hear about this, and roll their eyes and groan. Which is why they're not invited. At 10 years old child #3 is in the twilight of childhood, and I'm going to hold on to every moment, to milk it for all it's worth. I had a ton of air miles saved up, and she's still young enough to be really excited to go to Disneyland. Especially without her cynical big brothers.

Now Disneyland has got to be one of the most contrived, cheesiest places on earth. A massive display of the most blatant commercialization you will ever see. And yet despite this, if you can think past the too-loud music blaring from everywhere and the astronomical prices attached to everything, some of the "magic" remains. Why? Because beneath the layers of glossy marketing, there is Imagination. Ingenuity. Wonder, even. The real deal.

What a gift imagination is. To a child in a bleak situation he or she has no power to change, imagination can fill the mind and heart with delight, interest, and hope. As a child, I loved books and stories. As an adult, I think I love them even more. Without imagination, we could not think our way past the negative circumstances of our lives, past the problems that seem fixed and inescapable. Without imagination, we would be severely limited in our ability to reach past these things in faith and grasp the idea of heaven, or of a GOOD God who loves us and helps us even when everything around us looks bleak.

I'm working on a new book, a young adult fiction/fantasy book. Chock full of fantastic imagined characters and adventure. What a delight it is, in this season of life when I'm frankly feeling a little bored by my "suburban soccer mom" lifestyle, consisting mostly of must-dos that often are not terribly interesting to me, to open my laptop and enter another world for a while.

I've had people ask me if I plan to write more about the characters in my first book, and my answer is: Not now. I do not think that book is overly heavy, but it isn't exactly light-hearted, either. In my own life, I've been through months and years of facing heavy and hard and sad stuff. I'm stepping free of shadows which for most of my life I did not even realize were hanging over me. I'm ready for some lightness, triumph, joy. Because in the real story, that's how things end.

But to get a glimpse of that end, you need enough illumination to see the road you're walking on. And that illumination might reveal some stuff that's pretty hard to deal with.

Someday I'd like to ditch the big house and yard, live in a simple condo or apartment near a great airport, travel a ton and have real adventures. But for now, flights of the imagination, along with the occasional short excursion our way-stretched budget will cover, will have to do.