The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What Happened To Your Childhood Dreams?

I watched my son Jason in our overcrowded garage last Sunday.  Crawling through and around boxes, exploring, testing his two-year-old agility and strength…I suddenly remembered what it was like to be in my father’s garage, a place of magic and mystery where untold secrets to the universe were hidden.  It was here that the pathway to manhood unfolded (I was convinced) and everything was incredibly important and wonderful, even the dead bugs that lay curled in the corners.

Jason could have stayed out there all day.  He didn’t want to go to the park.  He didn’t want to ride his wagon.  He just wanted to play in the boxes.

And I asked myself: where does that simple fascination with life go?  I ask that, because the eyes of a child are central in living a high-energy, creative life.  Children dream.  Children turn everyday objects into castles and dragons and far-away mountains.  There is no limit to the possibilities, because they haven’t learned to put walls around themselves.  Every shadow is a soldier, every sound a trumpet, every  stranger a giant, every  new experience an unexplored land.

It is said that wisdom is the ability to combine the eyes of a child with the mind of an adult: the ability to embrace each new day as an ultimate opportunity, filled with infinite potential.  If we’re not careful, this attitude gets leeched out of us one day at a time.  It takes its toll in our writing, our relationships, our commitment to graceful physical movement and sensuality.  It costs us, in other words, our very lives themselves.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to make a list of the things you wanted to be and have and do, as a child.  To what degree is your current life an adult version of those dreams?  To work to align your outer life with your inner world, you access a stream of creativity and aliveness that may be wholly unprecedented in your experience.  A thousand books could be written about people trying to make such adjustments, but in order to write them, you have to start by examining the question for yourself.  So…what happened to your childhood dreams?

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