I’m one of the best. Truly I am. I don’t say it with a hint of hubris either. It has taken years of honing this singular skill into something efficient as it is effective. Even when my my kids are watching intently (when a 2yr old AND a 4yr old are glued to the hunt…. You know it’s good), I make kills with single strikes. Time. After. Time… Seven, eight in a row… ask my wife, she’ll tell you it’s true. You see, I am a fly-swatting master.
My kids call me… The Fly Hunter.
I really do ‘hunt’ them. Rarely needing more than one swat to extinguish their buzzy flame from existence. Let me share with you how it’s done…
The first thing I remember as a child was discovering the thrill of the hunt. Mike and I lived in an old colonial house with many dark places for flies and other winged nightmares of our toddler/young childhood imaginations. We would imagine each little black speck as a dragon or other monster lurking in the dark shadows. I would pause, sometimes for a full 100 seconds (count slowly to 100 right now and tell me if that is not agony to a 5yr old child), a listen intently for the buzz or a glimpse of a faint flicker of movement along a counter or window sill. Flies can be shrewd, you see. They are worthy adversaries with their ability to cloak themselves with invisibility shields or display death defying feats of airborne acrobatic skill and evasion. They have the ability to stay aloft for what would seem like an eternity only to vanish into shadow. I’d make believe that I had to protect the castle from the invasion of dark creatures. I was their last hope.
I had to BE the hunter. I had to believe. The choice to use imagination and creativity helped me get the focus I needed so I could improve. I needed to win, to finish telling my own superhero story. I’d create dazzling ways to attack and hunt. My brother and I were the champions of the universe, defenders.. like Voltron. Our house was slowly being renovated over the course of a decade (or two) and was constantly vulnerable to attack. On morning my brother and I discovered an attic window covered in black houseflies… oh boy… the war was ON! We would venture up onto the battlefield to wag destructive war. The window became a proving ground and practice facility as we got older. Could you effectively use two flyswatters? What was your daily count? Who was better today. Truth be told, in a head-to-head competition, my brother was better than I. He is older and I was often over matched. I learned from him. Watching how his eyes moved in sync with the buzz of his target. We created competitions and games, style points included, to see who could hunt flies best. We got better. Dare I say I might even be able to beat him today…
There were so many little decisions to make. Each choice had to be carefully weighed and intentionally made. When do I slide one foot closer and edge my instrument of destruction into a slightly better striking position? Should I get greedy and try swatting him from the air (the big slow bombers are so much fun to do this with…)? How quick am I right now? How prepared? How focused? It is a hornet or yellowjacket? Can I make my kill-strike, the first strike? No one wanted to miss a bee and be left open for a counter strike. The pain…. I still remember the pain. The most fearsome foe was the dreaded white-faced hornet. Aggressive and intelligent, one had to be in midseason form to even think about taking one on… let alone two at a time. Honest, humble decisions about my current condition/form were supremely important. I had to be very intentional about each encounter.
It’s important to me that I have not lost my imagination. I love imagining and creating my future experiences. It helps me learn. It helps me remember. The lessons from my childhood are applicable to anything I learn today. It starts with the intentionality of imagination.
Choosing to create the experience your story desperately needs helps focus and learn skills that complete your adventure. It’s a story that needs to be told. Enjoying an experience means to take an active role in creating your own fun. To improve and learn any new skill or concept you must intentionally place yourself in your own bubble or world. Concentrated focus IS imagination. Imagine the boot-up scene in the Matrix that Neo first enters with Morpheus. Concentrated focus. A blank slate to create. Nothing outside of that space exists but yet all the space they are in is only in the mind… Whoa (insert Keanu for effect).
I still play out my war against the armies of flying monsters as a grown up. A little space of my imagination still gets the thrill of hunting them and ending their reign of terror. I hope my kids imagine their own worlds and adventures, too.