I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and decided to do a bit of an experiment. You see, people have been recommending that I read the books, or at the very least watch the show on HBO for a while now. I normally like sci-fi and I find that I have to be in a certain mood for a Fantasy novel of any length, let alone an epic series where each book is 800+ pages. (I’ve never been one to balk at length, it’s just that it’s a commitment that is sometimes difficult to make before you know if you’ll even like it or not.) Anyway, I started the novels, then had a thought. I’ve read enough of the first book to get a handle on the plot, so I’ll watch the first episode of the HBO show and see how I like it. See if it’s true to the book (always a huge deal for me) and maybe it will help me solidify the characters in my mind. If I can put a face to a name, then I can tell Arya apart from Sansa more easily. Or so I thought.
Well, it turned out that I had read just enough so that the show didn’t have any spoilers for me. I read another hundred pages or so and watched episode two. Rinse, repeat. Great.
But then I got to thinking. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. A few weeks before, I watched the beginning of “Treasure Island” (1991 version) with my son because we were reading the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson yarn for bedtime and I thought it might interest him to see how what we had just read looked like in “real life.”
And the same is true for me now. Danaerys Stormborn will always appear in my minds eye as Emilia Clarke ( yes, there are worse fates.) Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Etc. That’s when I had a terrifying thought:
We are letting our imagination wither and die like an atrophied muscle.
Our kids watch cartoons about other fictional kids going out to their backyard and having adventures where they imagine that they are astronauts, cowboys, wizards… But my kids aren’t doing any of that! THEY ARE SITTING INSIDE, WATCHING A TV SHOW ABOUT KIDS WHO HAVE IMAGINATION! (I’m lookin’ at you Backyardigans!)
How do we fix this?
All right, I’m not a spokesperson for Stihl, but they come close to my point. We need to get our kids (and ourselves) outside more often. We need to sit under a tree and dream. We need to create. No matter what you think your talent is or isn’t, you can create something. If you’re good with your hands, make something. If you’re “too out of shape/ too fat/too clumsy/ etc.” that’s not stopping you from writing an amazing story or composing a beautiful song, making a stunning piece of jewelry or woodwork. The author of the books I’m reading now doesn’t have what most people would call an athletic build (see below), but he has created an amazingly detailed epic book series. No excuses. Go from a consumer of culture to a creator of it.
Terence McKenna had a thought along similar lines:
“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna
Turn off your smartphone, turn off the music, stop doing things just because they will make a #clevertwitterhashtag or Facebook post later that will def impress your “friends” or “followers.” Live Life. Rediscover your passion and be amazing at it.