When I was five years old, I thought I could fly. This was proven to me one evening as I, playing the role of Peter Pan, jumped from one bunk bed to the other at my friend’s house without falling on my butt. I was convinced I had the ability and needed only to tap into it and soar across the skies as the world’s biggest bird. Later, I found I was wrong, as I attempted to take off one day and landed directly on my knees, skinning both and finding the proof of my mortality in those tiny drops of blood that seeped from my pores.
As a child I had a very active imagination, as most children do. I loved reading, I loved tv and movies, and I was always consuming stories in some fashion. The writing bug hit early and hard, and I wanted to create my own scenarios in the world, starting with the games of make-believe I played in my backyard. I invented entire communities of imaginary friends with whom to play, and would build houses out of cardboard boxes, and jungles out of tall bushes. Something that only just struck me this weekend, however, is that I was never really one to create my own fantasy world, although I was often accused of living in one.
I was speaking with M this weekend about a game he developed for him and his friends. He calls it the Kingdom game, and they have divided sections of their neighborhood into different realms ruled by different people. M is a warrior, born of the Grim Reaper and an angel, and has developed a complex back story involving other planes of existence, omnigods and goddesses, and a rich folklore that I would have enjoyed reading about at his age but would never have come up with on my own.
I asked where he got his ideas from, and like most of us creatives, he has no idea. I told him I was a little jealous, and he naturally asked why. I have always been jealous of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer, see. Now, if I’m at the library, I’m not reaching for a book from that genre; it’s just not what I prefer to read. However, I am mesmerized by their abilities to create these intricate worlds that draw people in, and the loquaciousness with which they churn out sequels amazes me. I get plenty of ideas, but they mostly take place in the “real” world, or some slight variation of it. I am jealous of those who can create their own worlds from seemingly nothing.
M said he would like to one day write down his story that he created, and turn it into a web series or something. I had such lofty dreams at his age, too. Some dreams I accomplished; some fell by the wayside as I grew older. Right now, I am working on my dream of a book of poetry, one I have held onto since high school when I wrote my first good poem. When I was young everyone loved my poems. I used to keep them all in a purple book that I took with me everywhere. Now, I know 99% of them are garbage from back then, but I still like to think about the time when I was so young and hopeful that my dreams all seemed attainable. When I had my first poem published, I was seventeen, and elated. I was a week away from graduating high school and certain that my literary career would take off in no time. Because that’s what children are: eternal optimists. I still held that childlike hope, the same hope that told me I could fly if I wanted to.
Now I know that the only way those dreams come true is though work and perseverance, and, it is my belief, the wonderful balance of timing. Timing has never been on my side. The moment I felt confident in my writing was the moment I fell into a deep depression that lasted several years, sending me home from college and into a doldrums that I could not get out of, until counseling and meds finally did their thing. Even now I struggle with this daily, but I make small strides. For instance, all weekend I was considering not writing a blog this week. That’s something I simply don’t do. I had many good reasons, the biggest being that I need some time to myself to take care of what’s going on in my life right now and center myself. But then I remembered that writing centers me. I remembered that if I wrote articles for a professional blog or website, deadlines would not be debated due to my mental state. Work only works if you work, you know?
So, I thought about writing about the past week, full of hospitals for me and my mother, but decided against it because I just can’t anymore. I am so done with my family and I being ill. Then I remembered my conversation with M. And I remembered trying to fly.
Perhaps as we get older it’s good that we lose some of what we had as children. I mean you can’t very well have your accountant running around wearing a Spiderman cape and shooting Silly String at you while you’re trying to get your taxes done. Still, I think we could all take a hint from the younger generations and hold onto a little hope that maybe, there is a magic kingdom where you and your friends will play forever. Maybe we all do have a little superpower left, even if it isn’t really the gift of flight or x-ray vision. That superpower is the hope that maybe, just maybe, someday you will take off running and never touch down again.