Why Grown Ups Need To Play Pretend
If you're a grown up, you need to play pretend? Why? Well, I am going to use my pet topic of men who wear women's clothing as a way of example here, but this has a much wider application which will become glaringly apparent by paragraph three or four, I promise.
It all started during the debate around the way that men who wear women's clothing try to sometimes pass as women.
(Now, before we start getting tangential, let me officially acknowledge that not every man who dresses in women's clothing is trying to pass as a woman. Some men just like skirts and dresses and whatnot and are quite happy being male, but enjoy female fashion styles. I know you guys hate getting mixed up with those men who really are taking on feminine qualities, so there's the disclaimer.
During these debates, a women claimed that a man dressed as a woman could never be a woman even if he looked just like one. This would seem to be a claim of such monumental obviousness that it barely needed stating, but the fact that it was stated showed me that some adults have grown up far too much and forgotten the supreme importance of fantasy in one's life. They've lost the ability to play pretend themselves, and to understand when other adults are doing it.
As kids, we're encouraged to use our imaginations. Nobody chastises a child for pretending that they're in a rocket ship on the way to the moon. But for some reason, in spite of the fact that adults are perhaps far better at living fantasies and lies as if they were real than children ever could be, adults are not often encouraged in the realm of imagination. (Don't believe adults are better at kids at playing pretend? Most kids climb out of the imaginary rocket ship when it is time for tea, but some adults will make believe that they love someone and actually marry them only to admit months or years later that they never really loved them at all but didn't want to die alone.)
As adults, our capacity for imagination
tends to become sublimated and discouraged outwardly, but it doesn't
go away, instead it becomes a much more powerful force of delusion,
where instead of enjoying our little fantasies, we actually believe much darker, less life affirming things that sap our energy and age us faster than a mother ship full of free radicals ever could.
However, some of us haven't lost our capacity for imagination, fantasy, fun and play. I believe that men who cross dress often fit into this category. They enjoy the feeling of being feminine, they enjoy ladies things and they live their 'real' lives quite happily. Other adults enjoy other types of imagination play, and as long as they are able to put down their toys and go and do the dishes at the end of the day, I think that imagination and fantasy are important parts of a healthy psyche not just for children, but for adults too.
I'm fortunate in that, as a writer, I am allowed to indulge my imagination on a regular basis. Though not a great deal of my fiction is published here, I nevertheless quite often spend several hours a day 'away with the fairies' as they say. When I return from these worlds, I am so much happier and more relaxed than I was when I was indulging delusions of the mundane.
If you've lost the spark of imagination in your life, take some time to rekindle it. Dress up. Write a story. Watch an old movie you've always secretly wished you could live in. Read a book that sweeps you into another realm. You'll be astounded at how just an hour of 'playing pretend' refreshes you, relieves your stress, and makes the world seem a much better place altogether.