Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Lost Art of Playing Pretend

As a child, one of my favorite games was to play 'Pretend.' When you play Pretend, you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do, and you don't need an online avatar to do it. I could be a pirate, an elf, a robot, a princess... I could even be the prince, no surgery required. Pretend gives you new eyes, you look at the world and see a veneer of magic overlaying the ho hum of everyday existence. Pretend was a land of hope and endless possibilities, knowing that the world could be anything imaginable. Many years and countless decisions later, I find my world view somewhat narrowed. Each choice I make is simultaneously one yes and a thousand no's. Each day new reality hits, new responsibility calls, and I have less and less time to be the daydreamer I once was. I lament the loss of my former self, of the carefree child I used to be. I watch my own children play and see them take on the mantle of the imaginary characters I once sought to be. I have lost the art of Pretend. I can no longer immerse myself in that world for hours and days because someone has to make lunch and call the gas company to see why the bill is so high. But I can do these things for my kids, so that they do not have to worry about their next meal, if they have clean clothes, or where they will sleep. I can buy my kids costumes instead of video games, toy swords and plenty of band-aids. Because let's face it, even brave knights get boo-boos sometimes. And I think that playing Pretend all those years served a purpose: I got to live my life a thousand different ways and visualize so many  paths untraveled. I know I wouldn't trade my life for that of the Lost Princess, the Unlovable Pirate, or even the Fearless Adventurer. How do I know this? I've been there, done that. And now it's somebody else's turn.

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