I was seven years old when I said something that my Dad says has stayed in his memory for life, something he stills remembers word for word like it was yesterday.
I remember it vividly too.
I was sitting in the back of my Dad’s car, driving to the corner store where we’d stop on a Sunday. Dad would get his paper and buy me a comic or magazine of my choice. I remember really wanting to be a fan of the Beano and Dandy, but always found the desire of wanting one of those comics more intriguing than the read.
In hindsight, I think it was more the creativity of the comic I admired rather than the stories inside, although I did quite enjoy Roy of the Rovers, and became a collector for a while. It wasn’t long though, after having expressed an interest in the wonders of the world, that my Dad bought me a subscription to the National Geographic Magazine. I remember only reading the text snippets and not the full articles, but thoroughly enjoyed the fabulous photography of the natural world.
My creative mind must have been on high alert that day. I remember staring out the car window and suddenly saying, “Dad, what if this is all a dream, and when we’re asleep, that’s the real world? Or, what if this is all a dream, and one day we will wake up in another world?”
In a child-like way, I was referring to the possibility that the physical world is not the reality we presume it to be, and that the dream world is in fact the real world, or indeed another world that we are yet to discover.
My Dad simply answered, “You might well be right, son, that’s a great thought”.
I’m sure there was some conversation post my Dad’s answer, but neither of us can recall what was said next.
This moment in time popped into my head the other night, as I was about to fall sleep. I didn’t think too much on it as I was dropping off, but when I woke the following morning the thought was immediately with me again. And so I explored it over breakfast.
As I pondered, it struck me that the thought process I had in the back of that car was of massive importance to my life progression.
And here’s why…
My Dad could have used science to reason with me as to why my speculative philosophy was probably wrong. Indeed, he could have explained how and why dreams occur, and how highly unlikely it is that we are going to wake up one day in another world. Being an atheist, some might have expected him to offer his firm viewpoints on life and educate his son in the same way he thought about life.
But instead my Dad recognised that this was more than just a random thought process. This was the culmination of my previous pondering and observation. He recognised that I had started an important journey, one that without doubt has contributed to my teenage and adult interest in the inner workings of the mind, books I’ve read and people I’ve taken an interest in, and one that has influenced my involvement in the creative industries, travelling, starting this blog and a whole host of other things I have done thus far.
With his simple answer, my Dad empowered me to believe that my thoughts, all be it far-fetched in the eyes of some, were valid and had basis for further research. His answer nurtured my mental growth and my critical mind. In that moment he let me be free.
Thinking about that philosophical epiphany at seven years old has also gotten me thinking that, no matter how old we get, we should never do ourselves the disservice of believing our mind to be full, or even half full for that matter. Leaving the mind open to life’s possibilities is essential for personal and spiritual growth. The imagination is a wonderful thing, not least because what can be perceived can be achieved, as they say.
Who knows what’s out there? Who knows what’s coming next? And while it’s true that I don’t need to know, I shall remain, as I was in the back of that car at seven years old, happy to use my imagination to drive the potential of possibility.