growing up with my imagination

A neighbour recommended The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. The book is highly visual and, as with many self help genre books, promises to take you to that quintessential moment – “oh right, that’s what I am supposed to do with my life!”

I spent a lot of my early motherhood years reading self help books, trying to figure out how to do the thing that, once I let it happen naturally, well, happened naturally.

After dropping out of the world of work for two years to pursue my degree, followed by a year of hellish work/school juggling (resulting in early retirement), I struggled to figure out everything. “What’s next?” didn’t even begin to cover it. I had a lot of big life stuff already handled. Still, I was a bit adrift. The years of a direction, a schedule and goals were suddenly not before me.

I read the book. I wanted to rush to the end and find my passion (as the subtitle suggested I would) and then follow it.

Instead, I discovered something else.

One of the activities is to look back and ask: “What were you like as a child?”

I took a bunch of sticky notes and wrote down things I remembered. Of course I wrote “Chatty” (seriously, every single report card had that comment).

The one that stuck HARD was “alone with my imagination”. I guess the idea of remembering being alone could be construed as sad, but that wasn’t it.

I was happy to be with my imagination. I loved to make up stories and adventures. When life felt scary, I had an escape.

I had grown up with a self published story book in my mind. I frequently accessed it at night, after my light went out. I would turn the pages in my mind and pick the story, written by me. Sometimes, I’d edit it, but mostly just let it unfold as is.

I remember reading Harriet the Spy and then spending weeks wandering my neighbourhood with notebook in hand, making observations and then conjuring up stories about the things I saw. I loved that sense of self-produced adventure.

I don’t know if the secret to my “must” or passion is inside this learning; I do know that two great realizations came:

  • I love my imagination: what it can do and the great comfort it has always been
  • I was a pretty cool kid

I know what and who made me stop writing and making up stories, but the last few years of growth and self-care have taught me – the big bad wolf can’t scare me anymore.

So, excuse me – I’m off to observe the world and see where my imagination takes me today.

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