As I watched, it slowly and effortlessly passed by against the brilliant blue sky. It appeared to be the exact replica of a white elephant with floppy ears, sparkling eyes and an upturned trunk. Even though I knew it was huge, it appeared to float by with the weight of a single feather. For some reason, I could not take my eyes off of it. Several minutes passed while I continued to stare into the sky. I must admit that I was disappointed as the elephant-shaped cloud slowly morphed into a mere white blur.
My wife and I were lying in lounge chairs on our deck over the weekend. When I spotted the elephant in the clouds, I tapped her to see if she could see what it looked like. “Don’t you think that looks exactly like an elephant?” I asked, rising up onto one elbow. She agreed but, since she was reading a book, she lost interest and missed seeing it leave.
As I lowered myself back into the plump cushion of the chair, I remembered so vividly playing the “what does that cloud look like” game as a child. There were no comfortable lounge chairs back then. Instead, we opted for fresh, slightly damp green grass to act as our padding and laid ourselves directly on the ground. We could play the game for hours without getting bored and, with our imagination, could make the clouds be just about anything we wanted them to be.
The elephant cloud got me to thinking back about how I spent my summers growing up. There were no video games, computers or, for that matter, money, so we had to enlist a free gift we were all given — our imaginations!
The other night, I realized summer was upon us when I saw my first firefly. Just as night began to change the bright blue sky into the deep blue color it takes on just before darkness wins, I saw it. In the corner of my backyard, it lit up for me as if to say hello. I smiled, muttering the words, “I have missed you!”
I have never seen a child that wasn’t fascinated with the magical quality a firefly offers. In fact, as an adult, I am still fascinated. It is something we don’t understand, so we are intrigued. I spent hours and hours as a child diligently trying to capture them into jars so I could study them up close to see what caused them to light up. My imagination ran wild with the possibilities.
As a child, we imagined a small broom was a gallant pony. Even though we knew it wasn’t, we convinced ourselves that it was. Just like old blankets and large cardboard boxes became our playhouses and forts, as children we didn’t limit our imagination by imposing boundaries.
When we sat in front of a blank piece of paper with a box full of crayons and were asked to draw, houses, trees and streets could be any color we imagined. We communicated with our pets like they were our human best friends and just knew they listened carefully to us and responded. When we needed a ferocious lion in our make-believe jungle, our cat jumped right in to assume the role without any hesitation.
When we rode our bicycles throughout our neighborhood, we used to almost close our eyes, hold our hands out and pretend we were flying. We also convinced ourselves that the cheap plastic blow-up pool our parents put in our backyard was in fact an exact replica of the cement pond the Clampetts had once they discovered oil, became millionaires and moved to Beverly Hills.
Imagination is a powerful gift. Its power certainly came into play when our mother used her finger to draw an imaginary line on the backseat of the car to separate my sister and me during a childhood spat. In our minds, we imagined it to be a thick wall that was able to protect us from the nemesis sitting two feet away.
As we grow up, why do we not use our imaginations like we did when we were children? They helped us out so much back then. Couldn’t they lend a helping hand to us today? I try on a daily basis to invite my imagination to come out and play. It is so freeing to me as an adult. It is a like dear friend that helps you forget for the moment what is reality. And, if even for just a moment, it makes you go back to being a child where the possibilities were limitless and anything could happen.
Summer is here and so are all the adventures that come with it. I plan on using my imagination to take me places I have never been before; to see something in every day that makes me giggle like a child; to count as many animals in the clouds as I possibly can; and to spend a little more time enjoying the bright twinkles of the fireflies.
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