"We're under attack! Launch the missiles! Fire all laser cannons! Pshh-crrrr!"
I raised the TV remote above my head in slow-motion action. With continued sound effects simulating explosions and the screams of dying people, I brought the remote down in a sudden descent to the couch cushion.
TV remotes make the best spaceships.
This is but a small sampling of how I often spent my days. During summer days sticks became rifles, swords or spears (often all at the same time) and small fort in our backyard was either a castle or an airship. In the winter, every snowbank was an enemy bunker and that fort became the wampa cave on Hoth.
For most of my youth, my imagination ruled my life on a daily basis. By the end of 5th grade, this was adversely affecting my grades in school. It was much easier and more fun to create worlds and characters in my mind than to pay attention to my teachers. Sure, other kids teased me, my brothers took every opportunity to embarrass me, but it's easy to ignore them when you're fighting orcs and aliens.
I was about thirteen years-old when I realized how much my imagination affected the rest of my life. Thankfully, my dad provided me with some help and direction. He began teaching me how to use my imagination productively. Now, I had already been writing stories, but it had never occurred to me to use stories to help me understand math or science.
This is where role-play games added so much more to my life than daydreaming and writing. For one, I wasn't alone in playing these. My dad, a school teacher and game creator, arranged game sessions with his students, which I joined. My brothers, who so often poked fun at my imagination, now joined in my adventures. I found a group of kids at my school who played role-play and strategy games. Suddenly, plotting lines on a graph was just about formulas. the formulas became part of plotting the course of a ship. Now, understanding that oxygen is flammable isn't just an answer for a science test, it was part of keeping my character alive when his spacesuit sprang a leak.
There are so many applications for math, science, history or any other "boring" school subjects in role-play gaming. I also found that my writing improved when I used the stories created through my gaming as fodder. Perhaps most important to me, I found an outlet for my imagination. I learned to use it to benefit me rather than just distract me from what's important. I still daydream, but never without a purpose. I imagine as many possible outcomes to my challenges in life. What are goals if not imagined outcomes with a plan to obtain them? Imagination shouldn't be limited, it shouldn't be stifled or shunned. We shouldn't look at those around us playing with their imaginations as childish or weird or goofy; because they are doing something we should all be doing.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."
My imagination is no smaller, nor any less used now that I'm an adult than it was when I was distracting myself with it in elementary school. I've learned to harness it, to ride it as one does an infinite wave of discovery. My imagination is a friend. I feed it with the knowledge I've acquired and it provides me with both entertainment and understanding.
Imagination is life.