Finding A Home For Imagination

Illustration by the author.

Illustration by the author.

One day, my father came home with a story.

Entering the living room, he swiped the rain from his hair and exclaimed, “this is no ordinary story--- it is a tale of the astonishing and terrible.” Completely captivated by the possibility of this claim, my brother and I eagerly sat before him, expectations beyond practical. He looked at us, faked a sigh of exasperation, and began. That evening, on the path home from work, he had seen the green enormity of a troll. Our expectations were fully met.  

Looking back with fond nostalgia, I now realize that much, or perhaps most, of my childhood was characterized by odd adventures. Portions of my memories are now devoted to hours of forest exploration and story creation.

My kindergarten experience was the largest concentration of these memories. At the age of seven, I remember sitting in a circle of friends and declaring our downtime should be spent snail racing. As we reoccuringly ran into the wet, coastal forest, we found different activities to explore. Snail racing was a brief fleeting idea that soon evolved into woodland monarchies of fully developed courts. Largely aided by our stereotypical hippy parents, we developed our imaginations while surrounded by wilderness.

Years later, my family and I moved from our coastal community and immersed ourselves in the culturally different Central Oregon. This move was initially devastating. Any situation that completely reinvents your life will have a tremendous impact, and, as a young child, I found it difficult to comprehend this ideology.

The places I missed, the various forests and beaches, had previously invoked my imagination; however, as I explored our new, seemingly drab, desert surroundings, I found no inspiration.

Reflecting as a current proponent of imagination, I now know that inspiration is found everywhere; in this time period, I merely did not pursue any form of discovery. I had chosen to ignore the creative foundation of my life and any potential expansion within Central Oregon. Conceding to this was my ultimate mistake. I no longer expressed or utilized imagination in art--- as I often used to--- or my general life.

Fortunately, I discovered the source of this defeat: I had neglected outdoor adventures. Although I found my location drab, through pursuing beauty, I found salvation in Central Oregon’s expanse of high lakes.

As previously mentioned, my mistake was ceding my identity to the mundane and not regarding potential inspiration. I have now reclaimed imagination and realize it’s importance within my life.

Uncomfortable experiences make it increasingly easy to ignore imagination and merely embrace discomfort. Regardless, the benefits of imagination nullify any possible annoyance when rediscovering your identity. Personally, the wilderness encouraged my own discovery; however, any form of inspiration--- drawing, writing, or otherwise--- is crucial to pursue. After embracing my imagination in subsequent years, I have found that there are endless ways to express creativity, regardless of subject or ultimate career. The ability to utilize imagination is a unique characteristic that is undisputably beneficial in life.

I, fortunately, had a concrete foundation of this ideology in my childhood; regardless, I intend to make creative development a priority, despite ultimate career choice. Pursuing this priority, for everyone, will institute a new generation of unique and creative individuals.

Regarding my childhood as the woman I am today, I realize that time spent looking into the forest, waiting for monster eyes to gaze back, was not wasted.


Grace Smith