Photo by Mehdinom

Kallie Brown, A&E Editor

Before the era of apps and Instagram, kids’ time was spent outdoors, frolicking in the grass and dirty backyards. The worlds we imagined in our minds became reality for days at a time.

For half of the day, I was wearing cheap dresses and plastic shoes, dancing around my kingdom of stuffed animals. A touch of my wand and they would become loyal subjects who I could have endless conversations with. Once, my stuffed dog Fruff Fruff got into a blowout argument with me, and I refused to “bring him to life” again for a week.

The rest of the day, I was outside on my playset, pretending that I was an escaped Pegasus on the run from pirates. The grass was the ocean I soared over, and a swing gifted me with flight. I didn’t care that I was marking my jeans with grass stains. I’d run inside, hands red from swinging across monkey bars, so that the pirates wouldn’t catch me with their crocodiles. By the time the stars were shining above my head, I was exhausted, and could barely crawl into bed before falling asleep.

When my family dragged me along on camping trips, I always looked forward to the campfire games once the sun set. Something about the red glow of flames throwing shadows across the forest inspired stories that would never have come around ordinarily. Sure, I was terrified of bears foraging through our campsite, but in my mind, I knew exactly what to do. Just run to the maple tree, where all the branches hid my secret sword, and face it down. I would single-handedly save my family, campsite, and the world.

Turns out, I was following all the steps that PBS gives new parents. Play dress up? Read books? Check… and double check. In fact, I was doing both at once. When I was little, I didn’t understand that using my imagination so freely was helping me with basic life lessons, like how to problem solve and use simple motor skills.

Albert Einstein was one of the firmest believers in imagination. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world,” he said. Another of his famous quotes says, “Logic gets you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.” His imagination had no bounds, as any science class will tell you. While he was thinking about light and mirrors, I was pretending to be a pegasus. Both took the same amount of imagination; he just put his into practice. Just you wait, I’m going to develop a theory to turn people into flying horses.