“And of course they were talking about Narnia, Which was the name of their own private and secret country. Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real.”
~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Page 17
As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading through The Chronicles of Narnia with my 7th grade Bible class. Today we started “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader”. I’m going to ignore for the moment my frustration at being asked, “Mr. Marshall? Why do we have to read the book when we could just watch the movie?” and move on to the above quote that caught my eye.
I’m a great proponent of imagination and especially fantasy in the young mind. I will gladly sing it’s praises and defend it’s use in education. However, that’s not really the point of this post. What I want to look at today is the honesty, openness, and truth of C.S. Lewis’ observation that all of us entertain dreams of the fantastic fairly often.
I think if we were all so honest, we’d admit the same thing. We all do have our own private and secret countries. A place where our mind can make us the kings and queens of old, or perhaps the hero who saves the day and the damsel all at once. We all have a desire to live in a world of excitement where we can thrive and even excel. In our imaginations, we can do just that.
Children begin early with young boys tying their sisters up to play cowboys and indians. The girls get their revenge by coercing their male playmates to endure tea parties and turns at playing house. Each though is mentally creating a world where they get to be the hero, star, or at least main character of drama as they enjoy it.
As we grow, often the games get more intricate and imaginative. A generic game of cowboys and indians will become a reinactment of Custer’s last stand or the battle of the Alamo as the boys grow and learn. The girls begin to imagine fantastic scenarios where boys are not just endured for playing house, but seen as heroes that will come and sweep them off their feet. This trend continues as books are read, movies are watched, and through these new worlds are discovered. Now each new world becomes a playground for the imaginations of the youth.
Have you ever seen such a child at play? Better, can you remember being such a child? It truly is a wondrous sight and for many of us, a glorious memory. Yet, what happens to those days of fantasy and imagination?
For most of us, they die out. We learn as we reach our teen years that only children do such things and are told that unless we wish to be relegated to the fringes of society with the other nerds, we should stop as well. Thus sadly ends the life of the imagination for most people.
Yet I’d argue differently.
C.S. Lewis is right. We all have our own worlds buried deep in the recesses of our mind where none of our peers can see. You’d be amazed at the people who, when I discuss fantasy role-playing or world building for novels and short stories, latch onto the idea with an excitement and passion. People who have long since quit playing make-believe or sharing their imaginations get wildly excited when I give them a chance to share with me mere glimpses of the worlds wherin they feel powerful and heroic.
We all want to be the hero. We all love to feel the exhiliration of victory. We all thrive on the fantastic and strange to a certain extent. Fantasy and the imagination are part of us, we just have a tendency to forget that from time to time. How sad that is.