As kids we make up whole worlds around us. We create challenges to overcome. Adventures to go on. People to interact with. We can create a whole world superimposed over the one we normally exist within. A day in the life of a pretender has more adventure than Indiana Jones lost in Mordor.
We’re good too. We can play pretend so well- so deeply and self-expressively- that it feels real. The lines get blurred like those ever so vivid dreams that make you forget you’re asleep. It’s so real for us we get our friends to help us overcome our pretend challenges. We tell the adults in our lives exactly what’s going on as if it were really happening (without second guessing whether its weird or not).
We pretend to be people we admire. We take on their characteristics, and do what they do until we are them. When was the last time you saw a child pretend to be someone they didn’t like?
We’re adults now. Here’s the thing: we still play pretend all the time without realizing it.
We pretend that money has value, and is actually worth its own pursuit. We pretend that our government really has our best interest at heart, and is in service of the people. We pretend that if we go to school, study hard, and work hard it will guarantee a comfortable life. We pretend so that we don’t have to face the uncertainty that comes with changing the status-quo.
Reclaim the game of pretend!
Ask yourself: “what am I pretending.” Get conscious of it. Are you pretending that you like your job? Are you pretending that everything is OK because you’re terrified to admit that its not? This can be a hard question to answer because we pretend to avoid looking bad. Sit with it for a while.
Start using the game of pretend to shape your life. Pretend you’re strong! Act how a strong person will act, habitually do what a strong person will do, and get your friends to pretend with you! Let go of the self-doubt that keeps you from pretending. Express yourself. Tell the “adults” in your life just how strong you are. You will be strong.
Pretend to be anything you want. Pretend to be a writer: pretend you’re Norman Mailer and “apply ass to chair.” Channel Steven King in the process. Omit needless words like Strunk and White. Pretty soon you’ll forget that you’re pretending. You will be a writer.
We never forgot how to play pretend. We just forgot that we play it.
[Originally posted 30 Wednesday Nov 2011]