I had just come off the hockey rink for a little rest when a little guy came tottering over, his mother chasing behind. He announced his name—I’M HUNTER!—and his age—I’M 4!—and, before his mom could get ahold of him, he stole the hockey gloves right off my hands. Hunter was quick.
He threw on my gloves and immediately started punching things—the wall, the bench, me. Now, I’m not the toughest guy in the world but I should have been able to hold my own against this kid. I didn’t stand a chance. Amid the flurry of body blows and uppercuts his mother intervened, apologizing to me and telling her son to return my gloves.
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” I said, gasping for air.
Just as quickly as Hunter stole the gloves off my hands, he put them right back on me. He wasn’t done with them, though, and he wasn’t done with me. His hand dashed into his pocket and produced a little toy lizard, a chameleon, green and rubbery and in need of a good place to play.
Sure enough, the back of a glove with its thick and bumpy padding was the perfect landscape for a chameleon to explore. For a while his toy was on rocky terrain, getting his foot caught in the cracks, then he became a giant stepping over a vast mountain range. The chameleon breathed and seethed, stomping across the countryside with a ferocious roar. I was just beginning to see what Hunter was seeing, getting lost in the new world he had created on the back of my glove, when suddenly he was gone.
“Uh…sorry…thanks…Hunter wait!” his mother called as she chased behind her son who had now become an airplane. I watched this little 4-year-old tornado lay a path of creative devastation around the rink, out the door and back again. I looked back down at my gloves, wondering what they might have become next if Hunter had stuck around.
He had a toy chameleon, an animal that changes itself to suit its surroundings and I smiled thinking he was just like that chameleon, changing himself into whatever he wanted to be. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized Hunter was actually the exact opposite. He didn’t change himself to match his surroundings, he changed his surroundings to match his imagination. He didn’t care what my gloves were, he just cared what they could be.
To me that’s really what Imagineering is all about.
Contributed by: John Gray (NDI#194). John is the Imagineering blogger.