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Tag Archives: imagination

When I was a child, my older sister invented a world in the garden. I’m not sure if it was more inspired by Narnia or Terabithia, because to me it seemed to be equal parts of both. It’s strange to think of a lush realm in the midst of the Colorado plains, but she managed it somehow. It was hidden away beneath the shade of a plum tree and walled in by a grape vine, and it was there that she established her domain. During the spring, she would pick flowers from the local greenhouse and plant them in her little corner of the back yard. It was a fantastic spot to spend a hot afternoon. With fresh fruit growing overhead (and around the corner in the main part of our parents’ garden) and water from the hose, you could stay out there for hours.

I never said anything to her then, but I was jealous. I wanted something like that, and she’d taken the best spot in the yard for it. I realize now, though, how important having a space of her own was to her. When we were kids, there were four of us sharing two bedrooms, and it was never easy for any of us to get time to ourselves. If I had the bottom bunk of the beds I shared with our youngest sister, I would hang blankets up to turn it into a fort. When we got a new fridge, I asked to keep the box it came in. Some scissor work and marker drawing later, it sat on the top bunk and turned into a Calvin and Hobbes-esque spaceship. Both of these spaces were mine, despite only being partitions within another room.

We would seek out places where our creativity could thrive. I didn’t realize how essential it was then, but the space we could make for ourselves was critical to us. Our imaginations were fueled by the books we read and heard, and the desire to craft something from our own thoughts moved us forward. Today, my big sister is an architect, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She went to college and poured herself onto canvas and into sculpture, bringing her imagination into reality. Just like she did in the garden back home, she’s making the world a little more like she dreamed it could be, one small space at a time. It’s an incredible bit of inspiration for me. I may use a keyboard or a pen and paper where she used paint and clay (and now wood, concrete, steel), but I like to think that, at least in some small way, I’m following a part of her path.


And for a while the rain fell,
And I pretended (do you still
Remember how to pretend?)
That I was aboard a tall ship,
Three heavy masts thrusting up
From the sea, damp men
Scrambling along damp rope
To secure her sails as the wind
And rain threatened to hurl them
Into an ever-hungry sea.
And for a while I pretended
(And I hope you’ve not forgotten
The rules for pretending) that I
Was a scribe, making careful records
Of all that the men saw and
Did, and of the strange new
Lands we reached, each dawn bringing
With it new adventure. And I
Pretended (but just in case, the
First rule is to forget about reality
For a while. Give reality the day
Off) that this rain was the first
In a series of increasingly fearsome
Storms that might claim the lives
Of many of the damp men
Who guided the ship from port
To port. And I pretended
(And the second rule is to dive
Headfirst into your own mind
And surface with whatever golden
Thought you may have have found
In the depths) that our ship
Had reached a sun-soaked shore.
And for a while the damp men
Escaped from the sea, and the
Rain stopped, and the sun shone,
And for a while the damp men
Were warm and dry and for a
While they were able to pretend
That their lives were something
More than they were. And for
A while I pretended (and the
Last rule is that no matter what
You pretend, that you have fun)
That I was there with them,
Dancing and singing in a
Tropical paradise, smiling
Because, for a brief while, I was
Free. And then the rain outside
My window stopped, and I
No longer desired to pretend.
The ship sailed away again,
And I was left behind.