Our desire for the whimsical and magical doesn’t die with our Velcro shoes or stuffed-animal collection. Role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, as well as video games, movies, and books belonging to the fantasy genre all showcase this innate desire for escape. The most successful works of all time belong to this same genre: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones are but a few examples. However, J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series stands out in one key attribute. Rowling didn’t just create a world of magic - she brought magic to our world. She assigned fantastical qualities to mundane objects, and carved out a place of whimsy that lies seemingly within our grasp.
Perhaps we can't change the world with the flick of a wand, but we can change how we choose to see and interact with it. Holding onto whimsy doesn’t mean we need to dress in ridiculous clothing, paint our house pink, or burst into gleeful song at any given moment (unless of course you want to do those things - I won't judge). It means learning to appreciate the beauty in everyday life, cultivating an appreciation for the small things, and, above all else, allowing ourselves to be genuine. It means following our heart rather than endlessly weighing the pros and cons in our head. It means being free of whatever is shackling us.
This clip from one of my all-time-favourite movies, Amélie, perfectly illustrates the beauty and whimsy that surrounds our daily life - if we care to see it:
Now, I have a confession: I haven’t achieved whimsy in my everyday life. Not even close. If anything, I’ve always been pretty serious. I remember once, when I was 10, standing outside on a particularly cold and blustery winter day for almost an hour, hoping to catch a couple of kids playing “nicky nicky nine doors” so that I could scold them. But this opposing perspective has allowed me to see how necessary whimsy is: I’m prone to seriousness, so I relish anything that reminds me why I shouldn’t be.
Of course, I've had my moments of whimsy too. I recall one Christmas morning looking outside and seeing long smooth tracks in the snow. Immediately, I ran to my parents and told them what I saw; convinced it was left by Santa’s sleigh. I was so excited to have proof he had been to my house. I still treasure that moment, even if my perspective has changed.
So look back and ask yourself what you really enjoyed doing in life, and why you stopped. Was is it because you honestly didn’t enjoy it anymore, or because you told yourself you didn’t?
I challenge anyone reading this to implement, perhaps once a month, a 'play' day, where you engage in the activities you loved as a child. Perhaps put on old movies, build a snow fort, make up silly songs, or play hide-and-seek. Whatever you used to enjoy, make a day of it.
If I can leave you with one message: Don’t take life - or yourself- too seriously. And never let go of your inner child.
Allison Van Maren
Meet Allison. When she's not contemplating life or daydreaming of far-off places, you can find her sketching weird faces, listening to indie/alt rock, gaming, and drinking copious amounts of kombucha tea. At the end of the day, all she wants is to live a happy and fulfilling life, and to contribute positively to the world around her.