Recently I came home from work and found that my fearless (and shirtless) four-year-old superhero was proudly standing still, in nothing but his shorts, while his older brother carefully drew lines of art upon his shoulders, across his chest, his back, and down his arms. The older brother had a Google image up that showed LeBron James’ tattoos. Somehow he talked his little brother into being his canvas. I’m sure it wasn’t hard to persuade the little guy, because he was so excited. With every stroke, he smiled with satisfaction. He made up a song and sang it. The lyrics were few. The tune was happy. “I…I…I am LeBron…on James.” In his mind he was truly becoming the all-star basketball player.
Soon the transformation was complete. The detail was impressive. Every tattoo was matched closely. “Akron” was written over the right shoulder and “Est. 1984” over the left. He had a lion head on his right arm. The word “Family” was written down his right side. “Loyalty” up his left. Across his chest was a griffin. A crown on his right shoulder. “Chosen•1” across his back. “Beast” on his left arm. And on…and on. I’ll admit, it did look pretty cool.
This wasn’t the first time these two had an encounter with a marker. And it probably won’t be the last. But I’m fine with it. Not only because it’s been a washable marker each time, but because whenever these two get together like this they exhibit imagination and creativity.
I think about my little boy. His love for life. His imagination. His ability to be present. To live in the moment. To daydream. All inside his mind. It’s amazing. But you know what? We were all there once. Just like him. As little kids we were more imaginative. We played more. We sang more. Danced more. Laughed more. Smiled more.
And then…we grew up.
I recently read that children, on average, laugh more than 300 times per day. Adults laugh only 15 times each day.
Life is short. We need to lighten up. We need to learn from the little ones. We need to smile. Laugh. Dream. Be in the moment. And live.
Goodreads…Amazon…emails…letters…I regularly receive positive feedback from readers about Calvin Sparks and the Crossing to Cambria. That makes me happy. The reason it makes me happy, is because through my book, I am enabling people to find their imagination. Calvin Sparks seems to have the right amount of detail in it…not too much, but enough. Kids and adults tell me that when they read Calvin Sparks, it is like they are watching a movie…in their mind. They tell me that they feel like they are there. That is a huge compliment, and it lets me know that my writing is on the right track. Because when I wrote Calvin Sparks, I was hoping that it would be very visual. I wanted it to spark imagination in others. I wanted kids to be able to open the book and enter into a new world, allowing themselves to experience the adventures alongside Calvin. To receive feedback from readers telling me that this is happening, is rewarding. To hear from teenagers and adults that they also see Calvin’s adventures unfold inside their minds, as if they were watching a movie, is equally rewarding. Why? Because that tells me that when they read, they are engaged.
This is the value I wanted to create with this book. Calvin Sparks was not intended to be just a story that is entertaining. I wanted it to be a tool for exercising imagination and creativity. I wanted people to be able to see themselves, next to Calvin, as if they were there. I wanted Calvin Sparks to help people become a kid again.
To become a kid after you’ve grown up, is a lost art. It’s a difficult thing to do…to live in the moment. To laugh. To imagine. It takes work. But it’s in us. Because we were kids once. And kids are the epitome of living in the moment. No one is as imaginative…or curious…or innocent as kids.
Learn to daydream again. Learn to laugh more. Learn to exercise your imagination. Learn to live.
It’s there. Inside of us. We need to dust it off and uncover it. So, let’s go find it. And once we’ve found it, let’s keep the flame burning and not let that part of us grow up…again.
Rusty Anderson is the author of Calvin Sparks and the Crossing to Cambria.