THE MAGIC OF CHILDHOOD
by Ashley Fernandes
Christopher Moore once said, “Children see magic because they look for it.”
Is that true, do you think? I believe so. Have you ever taken a bath and stared into the water for a bit, and suddenly your mind started taking you away from the calm lavender-scented bubble bath and into the harsh waters of the seven seas? Or have you glanced at a tree and seen not a hollow trunk but a woodland haven for the fae to dance and play?
Perhaps you have, as a child. But it is hard for you now. You don’t look for magic the way you used to as a child. Oh, but trust me when I say it’s always been there waiting patiently by your side. It’s only up to you to choose to see it.
Now picture this: a child sitting cross-legged in a large meadow of wildflowers of every other colour. This child is you. You see everything through their eyes.
You are mesmerized by the amount of colour before you. Each flower looks to you as if it is painted, and perhaps it was, by some giant man in the sky. As you pluck a daisy from the earth and bring it up to your nose, your mind begins to buzz. You close your eyes. You can feel your imagination start to whirl. You start to think of magic. Do you remember how this feels? What it feels like to be a child?
When you open your eyes, the meadow is still there, but something feels different. You look up. There are stars twinkling in the sky, but it is still daylight. Some kind of electric current – golden, sparkling light – drifts lazily through the blossom-scented air. You realize right away that this is the very essence of magic. When you look at it, you feel the same way you feel in dreams, or when you play make-believe. You begin to walk toward it, and as you do, your body feels lighter, and you begin to twirl around and around until a shooting star extends down and swoops you right up into the sky. This may sound silly, but to your child self right now, it’s the most serious thing in the world. The star, you realize shortly, is taking you to where children go when they play. Do you remember this place? This place of wonder and fantasy?
All you have to do is let your imagination take over. And right now, that’s not so hard to do, being a child. So you do. Your heart begins to flutter, and you feel on top of the world. You’re confident, self-assured, and poised. You look around and suddenly you are a queen or a king, standing on a balcony and waving regally to your royal subjects. You are the leader of a great nation. You can do absolutely anything because you believe. When you turn around, you are a pirate captain with an eye patch and a peg leg, ordering your crew to the deserted island that you believe holds buried treasure. You make your way up to the front of the ship, where the fierce wind hits your face and blows through your long, straggly hair. You close your eyes, and when you open them again you’re back in time a thousand years as a poor shepherd on a hill, herding fluffy sheep into a pen. There is a hazy pink and orange sunset above, and the grass is still wet from when it last rained. Life is peaceful, sweet, and still. And you think that it just can’t get better than this. Do you remember what thinking like that feels like?
It really can’t get much better than play. Imagination is the basis of life. It is the foundation for growth and development. In play, you can be somebody else for a little while. You can be a grown up even though you’re still a kid, and get this – you can be a kid even though you’re now a grown-up. No matter how old you get, play is what keeps you alive and sane. Because what would life be if mature adults got their way and we went without games and make-believe? I think that wouldn’t be very fun at all. Never feel bad or ashamed for doing the one thing that connects you to your inner child.
Do you see now, how play – imagination – is so important? Not just for the child, but for the overall well-being of a person. A child who does not play is an adult who does not smile. Magic is the framework of laughter, happiness, and of joy. It builds confidence, hope, and optimism. A child who isn’t allowed to believe in magic will grow to believe nothing good exists in the world. And this is why we have so many people – grown adults – walking around nowadays thinking that magic is for children, but they go home and wonder next to their piles of work papers and bills what in the world is missing from their lives. The answer is always magic in one way or another, I’m telling you.
But how does one get this magic back in their lives after they’ve forgotten what play feels like, what it feels like to simply be a child? Despite what you may think, that child-like wonder never leaves you. Oh, trust me when I say it’s right under your nose. You just have to pick that wildflower and look for it.