I recently cut a wooden dowel into 6" lengths for the purpose of making a new thread rack. At the end of the project, I had a few dowel sections leftover. I was about to toss them into the garbage when my inner child recognized them as something much more valuable. I handed them to my children and bid them go and play.
One month later, they are still toting those sticks around! They have substituted for: money, crayons, swords, and drum sticks. They have outlasted any number of shiny, plastic toys. Whereas a toy train is pretty much just a toy train, a stick of wood - precisely because it is so indeterminate - can be anything the imagination wills.
Video game systems now offer to bring Virtual Reality into our living rooms. Although I marvel at the technology, I wonder, "Isn't our imagination the ultimate Virtual Reality tool? Will the availability of pre-made virtual reality lessen our ability to imagine on our own?” Sometimes I close my eyes and catch a glimpse of something beautiful - a rhythm of pouring, spilling colors or the ghost of a face. But when I try to see more clearly, the edges blur and the image leaves me. I think artists must be able to see these things more clearly. The Mind's Eye, it is called. I am glad to see my children exercising their imaginations. We adults would be well served to practice the same.