I have a problem. Well, actually, I have lots of problems, but we won’t go into those right now. My main problem is work. It’s a problem most of the time, to be honest as I sit in a windowless office being blasted by ineffective air-conditioning while staring at a computer screen and pushing paper from point A to point B. And back again. Who says a degree in Ancient & Medieval History with a dissertation on Renaissance Italian Art wouldn’t get me anywhere!
But that’s not my problem. My problem is in this job that your creativity, your imagination atrophies. Work likes it that way. Work doesn’t want thinking, creative, imaginative beings. Work wants drones, robots who come in, do the job with maximum efficiency and minimum downtime and then go home again. And to be honest, there’s part of me likes it that way. It means I can go home and forget about work. The only thing about it that matters to me is the paycheck.
Well, that’s the theory.
The problem is that imagination is a muscle and needs exercising. Back in school, I used to write. In fact, though I say it myself, I was rather good. But adult life suffocates the imagination.
Remember school? You could make spaceships out of cardboard. Playing in the woods at the back of my school, sticks would make superb machine-guns, the copse itself became a battlefield. We must have shot whole battalions of the Wermacht out there. Or aliens. Or whoever we decided was the enemy that day. And there was always one spy in our platoon…
Days of freedom under the summer sun creating other worlds.
But suddenly, life is full of work and mortgages and fuel bills and house repairs. Imagination is confined to the TV or the radio or the computer. Is it any wonder that creating art is such a release? We get to be kids again – to see another world in the work we make. To take pleasure in the simple things of life.
If we are to remain creative we have to find time to play. And I’m not talking video games here. I think we need to actually get out there and remember how to remake these imaginary worlds. We need to re-learn how to journey to the places of our childhood minds. How easy it will be to create then, if our imagination is fit and healthy instead of the anaemic thing it has become!
So I’m off home now. But I’m going via the Horsehead Nebula… I’ll see you in the woods after school!