The Importance of Imagination (Inspired by Anne Shirley)

I have just finished reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time. I’ve always been a bookworm, but I tended to avoid the really great classic children’s literature during my actual childhood. I’ve taken it upon myself to read some of the good stuff I might have missed.

Anne of Green Gables was first on my list, and I have completely fallen in love with it. Anne has cast her imaginative spell on me just as she charms her way into the hearts of the unsuspecting citizens of Avonlea, including her “kindred spirit” Matthew (my heart!) and strict, but malleable, Marilla. I just love the dreamy way Anne talks and her emotional involvement in the things she loves. I love her growth throughout the book and I love that she’s a romantic, imaginative girl who isn’t afraid to have ambitions, to be herself.

My momma has always compared me to little miss Anne Shirley of Green Gables. I can see why–I’m a tad dramatic, I’ve always used big words, and I’ve always kind of been an “out there” kid. I used to play “pretend” constantly. I remember practicing “dreamy” faces in the mirror because I wanted to match the descriptions of my favorite heroines in the books I read. I thought living in “olden times” (as I would call them) would be an absolute dream. This was before I realized that “olden times” had no indoor plumbing. Or air conditioning.

I was an imaginative little mess.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I miss the constant daydreaming of childhood. I daydream now, but my mind often wonders about my unknown future–I don’t often daydream about “lovely” things, about “romantic” things as Anne refers to them. I don’t often imagine fantastical things; I drift off into some other dimension still worrying about the realities in this dimension.

It’s time to bring back some childlike imagination,  to let my mind wander into an abyss of color, possibility, and glorious improbability. Sometimes thinking about things that overreach the realm of reality prepares the mind to deal with the realities we actually face.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. But it definitely feels right.

So. Let’s all take a hint from little Anne Shirley. Take some time today to space out and imagine lovely things. Let your creativity soar, and appreciate all the beautiful things this world has to offer, just like Anne.

And now, a few of my favorite quotes from this glorious classic, all spoken by Anne herself:

  • “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
  • “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it?”
  • “Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything, does it?”
  • And, my favorite: “Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them–that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

I’m so glad I decided to revisit the neglected children’s classics of my childhood. Without the decision to do so, I would have never encountered such a lovely little book that encourages girls of all ages to exercise their imaginations and push beyond the limitations society sometimes creates. Anne’s imagination was her asset that aided her in so many areas of life; let’s all take the time to mimic Anne Shirley and drift off into the land of improbability in order to make our dreams an inevitable part of our future.

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