Sancta Maria International School had its Annual Days on November 9 and 10, 2017. On the first day, it was the turn of the younger children – Grade Two and below – to rule the stage. On the second day, the older ones performed a spectacular musical, Aladdin. I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts on the magic of dreams and of stories before the little children wove their magic with Disney Dreams!
Walt Disney made a living out of making us happy. And dream!
We, at Sancta Maria, find that our calling too! We want our children to build castles in the air. And, we want to help them build their foundations on the ground.
Many of us would be familiar with the famous Disney story of Dumbo, the flying elephant!
I have a short adaptation of that story for you.
Dumbo was not always a flying elephant. He dreamt of flying, but he didn’t know how. He watched in amazement as eagles soared high above and wished he could do the same.
Eventually, one of his bird friends shared a magic feather with him, revealing to him the secret of flying. Dumbo was told that with the feather in his trunk, he can flap his over-sized ears and he would be able to fly.
Dumbo believed and he began to fly!
And, that is how Dumbo the clown elephant became, Dumbo the flying star! The same over-sized ears which made him a clown until now, were now making him a star!
In the Disney story, on one occasion, as he swoops down, he loses the feather from his trunk. He continues to fly till he notices that the feather is missing, and then begins to fall. His friends encourage him to start flapping his ears again and as he begins to start flying again, he realizes that the magic in the magic feather lay in his own belief and not in the feather!
Many of us, by now, could already be thinking of how this is just another made-up children’s story, and an unrealistic one at that! Guess what? The best way to kill a story or a dream is by over-analyzing it.
There is pleasure in listening to a story. And, it is that pleasure – and not the analysis or derivation of principles and morals – that helps us remember the story. And, stories are useful precisely because we tend to remember them more than everything else!
For most of us parents, especially parents of young children, stories are our instruments to put our children to sleep. But, you know, stories are also what help them dream. Stories are what build their imagination.
Many dreams have been killed by ‘grownups’ who decided with their current level of knowledge and understanding that those dreams are unrealistic or impossible. Yet, the world is a better place because of all those who, down the centuries, chose to continue dreaming those impossible dreams!
Of course, there comes a point in time for all of us parents where the children start telling us stories. Many of those may put you to sleep! Occasionally, there could be some which may not let you sleep that night. The important point is that stories and imagination are deeply connected. And as educators, we often say, that the only real constraint for us and our children is the size of our imagination!
Frank Boyce, the screenwriter and master story-teller, talks about this amazing image David Hockney, the famous British painter, gave us:
“Imagine this! From the beginning of time, the sun has been pouring down energy; Energy that went into algae and into the leaves of trees and everything else, which then sank into the earth and fossilised.
Coal and crude oil are nothing but the stored memory of millions upon millions of uninhabited summers. When the industrial revolution came along, someone opened a hole in the ground and reversed that process. That energy poured out and turned into engines and rockets and aeroplanes and motor cars, unleashing this wave of incredible creativity.
That’s how it should be with stories! They should be sunlight pouring down upon your head and being stored as energy until the day you need them.”
As the Disney Dreamers unfolds in front of us – as the story is unraveled – it is not important whether, at the end of it all, we can describe what happened here. What is important is that, it stays in our mind and comes out again in ways that we can’t predict today.
Remember, sunlight is never wasted!