So it came to pass that I am a year older, not really a year wiser, and for all the hub bub I feel… about the same.
The last few weeks had seemed rough, dark, not quite so happy. I felt old. I figured it was the approached of the dreaded birthday. I’m not sure why it was dreaded, but it was. The feeling grew heavier and heavier with each passing day, each second that ticked closer to that fateful day was like the tolling of some horrid bell.
Only then did I realize that it was not the impending doom of my birthday which had had worn me down till I was but a nub of myself. I didn’t feel old because of another year being tacked on. I had felt old all these weeks because my imagination had seemed to forsake me. As a painter, an aspiring writer, my imagination had always been there for me. It was a close friend, a confidant, a secret love, and it had vanished. I looked at clouds and merely saw water vapor hanging in the sky, I saw no patterns forming the hidden faces of wood nymphs and ancient tree spirits in the leaves and bark of the forest trees. My imagination had left me to wander, and without it I was lost. I blamed my birthday for surely getting older meant sooner or later you must give up your imagination, you must give up the thoughts of fancy that delighted you in your youth.
Then suddenly the day before there was a change in the breeze, a shift in the winds of my mind. A light switched on in my brain, and the darkness vanished. I found myself humming, and then whistling, and finally singing with all my might. What was I singing you might ask? Well, I was singing “I won’t grow up” from Peter Pan. I found it odd at first that I would have such a tune in my head. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. Why then did the song find its way to the surface of my brain on this the day before my birthday. The answer is really very simple. I needed it. I needed it then more than ever before. I was forcing myself to grow up, with all the dieting and have to’s and schedule of this and that, and it was my minds way of bringing me back, of reminding me that I don’t have to grow up if I don’t want too.
Then just like that, my friends were back, I could see the smiling faces in the leaves and the bark, I could see the hungry dragons flying in the clouds. My imagination had returned. Although in hind sight it had never left me, I had left it. The world had been so dark without my dear friend and now it was light again. All because I accepted that I wouldn’t grow up. Another year meant nothing. It was a day in which to celebrate, to rejoice at staving off old age. You are only old if you believe you are old, if you let others believe you are old.
Say no, stay young, keep the wonder of a child. Remember your oldest friend, it was there for you before you could even know it was, and if you call, it will return. Let your imagination run away with you for a bit. Look into the clouds and see what you find, see how many goblins you can see hiding in the patterns of your bathroom tile. What is their story? You might be surprised to find you feel much younger when you dust off your old friend.