Balanced with reality, fantasy can play a useful role in life. Creativity is not just a unique quality reserved for children; the fantasy world is a one which many adults love to visit too but often won’t admit.
Lost in private fantasy, a child may be accused of building castles in the air, wool-gathering or daydreaming. But should children be discouraged from developing this inner-mind process? Indeed, could not adults too, benefit by turning their minds inwards every once in a while and taking advantage of this private, intriguing and wonderfully visual facet of the human brain; the ability to daydream and fantasize?
Developing Imagination through Fantasy and Daydreams
Whereas psychologists have sometimes tended to emphasise the wish-fulfilling and primitive nature of daydreams, there is also evidence that the make-believe games children so often indulge in, do play an important part in the child’s development. Rather than losing touch with reality (which may be the concern of some who prefer to discourage these games) a child can use his powers of imagination and fantasy to act out various areas of confusion or difficulty or even simply to experiment and imitate adults; not through impudence but as a preparation for his or her own maturity.
Hopes in Fantasy and Daydreams
Eventually imaginative play will become a more personal process, as in the case of the teenager dreaming of the future. Although these streams of thought could be thought of as wish-fulfilling dreams, they can also be creative and beneficial towards hopes and plans for the years to come.
When the future is more clear-cut those of mature years can still find enormous benefit through this visualizing process, especially if it has been nurtured through the years rather than curbed because of guilt resulting from discouragement of daydreaming in childhood years. Of course fantasy can be escapism as is reading a good novel. But daydreams are often useful in planning future actions as one can visualise the effects of certain courses of action before taking the first steps. Just as imagination can be used to envisage people’s reactions to certain issues before approaching them.
“My eyes make pictures when they are shut.” stated Coleridge in his poem A Day Dream. And it is true that for many writers, artists and musicians, these pictures are the source of their creativity. For instance, the greatly loved children’s story writer, Enid Blyton, was said to have described how she came upon her inspiration. She would “sit in front of her typewriter with a blank mind and wait. Before long, as clear as a picture, her characters began to perform before her mind’s eye as if on her own private cinema screen.” So many writers have described their material as coming from elsewhere. George Eliot considered that in her writing, someone who was not herself took possession of her, using her as an instrument through which this spirit for want of a better word could act.
Positive Fantasy and Daydreams
Fantasy can play a useful role in adult life as long as there is a balance between common-sense and reality with daydreams. It can be used as an aftermath of trauma, for instance through expressing emotions or re-writing the past. Fantasies provide an escape, an emotional refuge, hope and inspiration. According to Dr Seuss “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.! Without creative fantasy there would be no fiction, no art, no music, no poetry. Only primates like chimpanzee, monkeys and human beings have imagination. Should not everyone therefore, rejoice in their creativity and unleash the artist within?