When I was first asked if I had a special hiding place as a child, I thought that the obvious answer was no. Thinking about my early life I couldn’t think of any place I escaped to so I could hide from people (unless I was playing ‘hide & seek’).
But to run away and hide so people couldn’t find me because I got myself into trouble was not in my DNA (except for the time I locked my 4th grade teacher in the closet and then a day or two later I saw her walking towards my house). Believe me, when I saw her, I took off and hid.
On second thought, I think I ran away to hide when a couple of my mother’s sisters came to visit because I didn’t want to be kissed and they were the kissingest people. When I was a kid, kissing was something I didn’t want anything to do with and I tried to hide from them until my mother made me come in and give them a hug and sure enough, they gave me the torturous kiss. Eventually I learned that it wasn’t too bad, and I just came in and got it over with so I could get back to the important stuff in a boy’s life (baseball or riding bikes).
It’s taken me 15 minutes of racking my cell depleted brain to get this far in writing this story before I remembered a key component about hiding. I do have a special hiding place and that was slipping into my imagination, my inner sanctum where I enjoy a nice daydream while the real world passes me by.
Sometimes when I was in elementary school, I would come home for lunch and after I ate the grilled cheese sandwiches mom would fix, I would go into my bedroom, sit on the bunkbed, and start pretending to be a pirate. I pictured myself sailing the seas away from all the troubles a young boy could possibly imagine. There would be sharks and whales and occasionally other pirates that had to be dealt with. I watched myself climbing up to the crow’s nest with an old yet dependable pair pf binoculars to check for other pirates. I enjoyed this type of hiding.
Other times in elementary school I hid in plain sight. I was sitting in a hot classroom in late May with the sun shining through the west windows (we didn’t have air conditioning, so the hot air came rolling in). I would get distracted and before long my mind would be filled with all sorts of fun adventures.
Daydreaming in school was my escape and always so fun and much more stimulating than the spelling words or math problems or history lessons my teacher was talking about. The only time daydreaming in school wasn’t fun was when the teacher called on you. But I soon figured out that the teachers only called on the smart students and pretty much left the rest of us alone, so I just kept the dream going.
After sharing all this information, I realized that I’m actually quite good at hiding. Not in the typical way most people think about hiding but slipping away from reality. Over time this helped me develop an imagination that has served me well. I believe my hiding technique became a key component in the development of my creativity.
I enjoy hiding in my mind and letting it run wild and free. Doing this is like the feeling you get from riding a motorcycle or a bicycle or a horse and letting the wind blow through your hair and onto your face.
Occasionally I still revert to the safety of my mind, particularly when I need or want to do some writing. I can’t depend upon ideas just popping into my head, so I often write something silly about the subject I want to write about and before long my mind wonders while my fingers start typing and I’m often surprised where they take me.
My writing usually begins with me hiding from the world that surrounds me and, as I become immersed, my creativity takes over.
You see hiding isn’t always a bad thing but it can lead to trouble if we’re running away from something so we don’t have to face the challenges or consequences that may be uncomfortable.
I remember when a supervisor at work asked if I would be the media contact for our program. I really enjoyed working with the print media and radio, but I have Tourette syndrome and I was nervous about working with television. I mean who wants thousands of people watching you as you make facial tics and eye tics along with shoulder tics? I was afraid, so I tried hiding by asking if I could do print and radio and skip TV. I was told “No”! I went home to discuss it with my wife, and together we decided that if I hid from this opportunity, it would be easy to hide from other challenges. I went back to my boss and accepted the offer to work with all three mediums. I’m glad I did because it made me stronger. I cringe when I think of how many opportunities I would have missed if I had let my fears take over.
Over my lifetime I am so grateful that I found some place where I could hide and reflect and think about life, challenges, and stories. Parents, give it a try and you might be surprised at what you find.
Happy Failing Forward,
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