I am envious of my 3-year-old.
He can summon dragons, or the power of Thor in his plastic mallet. It is as real to him as bills and mortgage payments are real to me. His infinite realms of imaginative play clash with the rigid schedules and responsibilities of my workaday angst.
More entertaining than anything on TV is watching him create a world of make-believe. He is at once creator and chief protagonist in a variety of dramas. His cast-list would rival George Clooney’s on IMDB. Some roles are more challenging than others—anthropomorphizing as a flying lizard, or hopping amphibian.
I need a pot of coffee, a tin of tobacco, and social media stimulants to stay creatively active all day. All my toddler needs to do is watch the home screen of Medieval Times for 30 seconds and he pretends to be a knight for a week.
He is now able to sit down for longer lap books, and I’m having to extend story time to meet his expanding imagination, as I did Monday.
He’s also becoming quite a story-teller.
Here is an excerpt from a recent breakfast conversation.
“The bad guys went to fight. They flew way up in the air and then down into the ground. They were not good bears. They keep going and going and going. And grandpa and his son were there.”
“Who is grandpa’s son?”
“He’s the good guy and he loves them. And he went down—(incoherent mumbling that builds into a dramatic crescendo with)—LEAVE HERE NOW!”
My son has already learned to pause for dramatic effect. His eyebrows raised and his eyes searching for his next inspiration.
“Wow, then what happened?”
“He brought a gun and shot him!”
“Is that the end?”
When he gets going like this, I feel obligated to tell his audience that the performance will only end if they leave.
I’ve found no joy like the joy of creating.
I wrote about this joy here. In my “write mind” I care only for words, for the creation, not about how it will be perceived. This joy is spiritual in nature according to St. Francis, whose prayer pleas to understand, not be understood.
My boy gets lost in the joy of understanding.
The need for myth, the need for story never leaves us.
I believe the fanciful only sulks into abstraction as what we’re told is important begins to supersede it in our mind. It begins as chores or grades in school. It propels into our career and how we survive in a society that revolves around money. The adult condition becomes so crippling that we only identify who we are by how we make our living. But our jobs can’t define us.
Who we are is a woven tapestry of relationship and meaning.
I recall sharing my story early in recovery. I either exaggerated how much I drank or downplayed it. I was either trying to prove I was a bigger alcoholic and addict than you or that I wasn’t an alcoholic at all. But as my sober time lengthens, I’m finding the most satisfaction in truth-telling. There is no substitute for it, and there’s no confusing it when you read it. Without truth, how could I explain the miracle of the mundane?
Some believe sobriety boring, if only for the simple reason that we don’t lie, cheat, and steal anymore. Where’s the spice in life? The truth may lack the kick of boastful exaggeration, but it has the savor of beauty. You don’t go to a CGI movies for the cinematography. I don’t read stories (even fictional ones) for their fiction anymore.
Recovery has made me surprisingly honest, and ignited a passion for truth.