“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man [or woman] contemplates it, bearing within him [her] the image of a cathedral.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
What are your wildest imaginations? Have your imaginings come true? How did you make them happen?
During my growing up years, the only clothes I had, other than shoes and coats, my mother made for me. We visited the remnant table in Blass’s basement and she would select remnants for the dress, skirt, blouse, or shorts she planned to make. She would buy a pattern that I liked, then adapt it to fit her idea of the best design for my clothing.
I was a child who I didn’t want to stand out. I liked the clothes my mother made me but sometimes they were too stylish. I felt uncomfortable, but never complained. Sewing, for my mother, was not just about making clothes; it was also her creative expression.
I learned from Mother that you can take almost anything and change it into something different. You just have to use your imagination. For years as an adult, I made my own clothes using her approach, but when I could afford to buy them, I stopped sewing so often. By then I had developed other ways to use my imagination, writing poetry and short stories and creating interesting lesson plans for the students I taught.
Imagination and Creativity
Our imagination is at the basis of all creativity and can be used in all areas of our lives. Last week in the blog, I wrote about how what we see and the way we see creates a vision. In order to put our vision in action, we must imagine the route to take. We may imagine many routes, looking at each one, evaluating the possibilities and difficulties of each approach.
For example, many young people have to work while attending college or technical school. This isn’t an easy path. It will eventually lead them to becoming the lawyer or nurse they wish to be and allow them to make the money they need to live a good life. But challenges also come with the plan: arranging child care, fitting hours together for school and work, or perhaps transportation issues.
Imagining to Reach A Goal
As we put our vision in action, we may discover that what we thought we wanted won’t work. We have to find a better way to achieve our goal. We have to stretch our thinking to find the most effective way to succeed. The value of imagining and exploring many possibilities may push us to look at solutions we would never have considered until our imagination took us on this journey.
Even when our physical lives restrict what we experience, our imagination is unlimited if we allow it to be open. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The world of reality has its limits; the world of the imagination is boundless.” This is why I love writing. It allows my mind to flow, play with words, explore ideas that I couldn’t pursue in real life. It also enriches what I do experience by pushing me to look beyond the physical aspect.
Imagination also helps us to understand those who are different from us. I became a high school teacher in inner city New Orleans teaching mainly gifted black students. I was not racially biased and felt I could give them the support they deserved. But I discovered there was much I didn’t understand about their lives. It was an education for me and I felt compassion for their struggles. Despite the challenges they all faced, I still pushed them to imagine how their exceptional intelligence could lead to a better life and what steps they needed to take.
It isn’t easy to break patterns that have been used to define us. Parents, teachers, or employers may continue to support personal or cultural patterns that limit who they are and how they see those around them. But when we allow ourselves to imagine life beyond the poverty, race, hate, or economic situations of others and imagine they could move beyond those limitations, we also open the world to ourselves.
Making Dreams Come True
In our imagination, we all have dreams. One of mine was writing a memoir. A part of me said, “Why would anyone want to read about your life? You’re not a celebrity.” Another part of me said, “Others can learn from your experience. It may help them to have the courage to become who they really are.” Would anyone want to read my book? I didn’t know, but I knew that writing it would help me grow, and it did. My imagination led me through the process, around the curves, and helped me climb out of the ditches I fell into.
Writing was one thing, but creating the format and handling the technical aspect of self-publishing almost stopped my progress. I barely understand what I needed to do. So, I asked other writers, and to my astonishment, two people offered to format the e-book and help with the paperback. Then I found a class with an incredible teacher who led me through many technical difficulties. Eventually, the pile of papers I worked with every day became an actual book.
Awaken to your imagination. Imagination is not just mental activity. It is also energy and that energy may draw to us exactly what we need when we allow ourselves to see, imagine, and visualize our desire. A pile of rocks can become a cathedral and a pile of papers a published book.
© 2020 Georganne Spruce