The words “let’s pretend” have always held a special magic for me. What a wonderful way to try on a new identity for a while, to think about what it would be like to be another person, or a bird, or a fish in the depths of the ocean. To see oneself, if only for a moment, as a pilot soaring through the sky, or a singer acknowledging thunderous ovation, or a ladybug walking along the underside of a leaf.
One of my favorite quotes is by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, from one of my favorite books, The Little Prince:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The inner eye of the imaginative heart lets us look beyond the surface and the superficial to what is really important. Instead of differences, we can find common ground. Instead of fearing what we think we see in a new experience, we can look beyond to the potential joy. Instead of outward appearance, we can concentrate on what is inside.
This imaginative heart is valuable — one might say crucial — to children and adults, writers and readers alike. It helps ones’ understanding grow. It helps one go past the obvious to the exciting discoveries that lie beyond the surface. It opens ones’ eyes to new ways of seeing, and to new things to see.
Something I like to do to really get to know my characters as I write is to occasionally spend an hour — or a day — pretending to be that character. No, I don’t insist that everyone call me by the character’s name. No one but me really knows what I’m doing. But as I go through the day, I ask myself, “What would Trish do in this situation?” “How would Amos handle this?” “What would Kate think if this came up in her day?” It’s a marvelous way to think myself into my character’s head.
What might you look at today with the inner eye of an imaginative heart?