Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Imagination


"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience-
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death." - unknown

Anyone remember Robert Fulghum, he of "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" fame? I loved his books when I was in college! At some point I lost track of his writing, or lost interest, but was reminded of him this evening during the ongoing holiday clean-up project to straighten out the bookshelves. I poked around on the internet and found that he has a website where he publishes occasional journal entries, if you're a fan.

The quote and artwork above, which Fulghum calls the Storyteller's Creed, were included on a postcard that came with his second book. I liked it and it's hung beside my desk ever since. In the preface to that second book Fulghum requests that readers approach his book like the game of Show and Tell. He says his essays are like the odd treasures that children bring to school to share with their classmates. He asks that when we find something that resonates strongly - we share it - because he believes that, like children playing show and tell, there are some things that we as individuals attach a strong amount of importance to, thinking that we are the only one who values it, or cares about it, or thinks it to be true. But, he says, once a thing is shared, we oftentimes find that we aren't alone in the meaning and importance we've attached to it.

I tried to remember things that as a child I might have brought to school for Show and Tell because they were so important to me or worthy of showing off. I can't remember a single thing, of course. But I have to wonder if I were to play that game today as an adult, what one thing might I slip into a paper bag and bring to show off to my friends? What would you bring? What if it weren't a *thing* that can easily fit in a bag or a box, but instead a *quality* - a way of thinking or feeling or being?

I'd like you to play along with me and share a quality that you value. I'll go first. I value imagination. I don't have a picture to show you what imagination looks like, but instead share this quote from J. Ruth Gendler, copied onto looseleaf paper and tucked in my wallet many years ago:

"When Imagination walks, she writes letters to the earth. When she runs, her feet trace postcards to the sun. And when she dances, when she dances, she sends love letters to the stars.

Some people accuse Imagination of being a liar. They don't understand that she has her own ways of uncovering the truth. She studied journalism in junior high school. It gave her an excuse to leave school early and interview interesting people. She was surprisingly good at writing articles. When in doubt, she just made things up. More recently, Imagination has been working as a fortuneteller in the circus. She has this way of telling your fortune so clearly that you believe her, and then your wishes come true.

Imagination is studying photography now with an eye to making films. She has no intention of working in one of those factories where they manufacture images that lull us to sleep. Her vision is more complex and very simple. Even with the old stories, she wants us to see what has never been seen before."

Your turn. ;-)

14 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

Laura:
I value acceptance, to know a person and not want or need to change them. Or to listen to other's theories, and to be able to say, "I don't agree, but I won't try to change your mind."
I don't want people to judge me or think I am all wrong...I just want acceptance. If more people could just accept and not judge, this world would be different.

KGMom said...

Laura--thanks for the invite to share a valued quality. I value humor--one of my favorite interactions with my husband is to overhear him roaring away at something on the television. There is a quality to that laugh that makes the world right.
Once, I was in a meeting with some drug & alcohol providers, and I made a little joke, saying, we need humor to help us through life. One of the women I was meeting with (who was quite humorless) looked me square in the eye and said--we are dealing with life and death here; we don't have time for humor. I thought to myself--you are so wrong. How can you deal with life and death WITHOUT humor? So, I value humor.

samtzmom said...

I value and would show off Grace. Grace is there for us all, but many haven't met or embraced her. She allows us to be fragile humans and still know that we are not in control, and that we are loved beyond measure. She allows us to forgive ourselves and others. She gives us safety in the knowledge that we are never alone and that she's always there for us. She helps us through hard times, and reminds us that everything will work out as it's supposed to. I love knowing Grace.

Ruth said...

I would value friendship, the comfortable kind where there is "no need for formality or caution for the strengths and faults of each are known to the other." This goes hand in hand with Susan's value of acceptance.

Mary said...

I value Humor. She’s an icebreaker. She’s a form of exercise that is fun and strengthens the heart. She has the ability to make a day going awry into a sitcom.

Laura, thanks for the invite!

vicki said...

Your first quote reminded me of this: “It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.” Virginia Woolf

The good ones are rapidly being snapped up in the comments above but here's one that I think needs more attention: intuition. My experience is that when people slow down, become quiet and listen to their inner thoughts and voices, they KNOW the important things they need to know. They know the right way to behave towards their fellow citizens of the earth, they know how to care for nature, they know what's what. But between experts and media and doing what's expedient we have stopped listening to ourselves, to our hearts and even our heads.

"And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell,
and I understood more than I saw;
for I was seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of things in the spirit,
and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being."
Native American, Black Elk

My husband is always hot to watch the weather report on the news. As you know, I am a fan of BIG weather but I usually say to him: You don't need the weather report. Go stnad out in it for a few minutes and you'll know, not only what the weather is, but you'll have a good idea of what it's going to be for the rest of the day, at least. And that's as much as the weather persosn knows, if not more.

The tree. I want to see it.

-llm. said...

I value the artistic eye. This idea is what led Paiutes to sit and make arrowheads -- a necessary task for survival -- in a beautiful location. It is why I have bird feeders outside my kitchen window. The artistic eye lets us enjoy beautiful art but it also shows us the art in a leaf and urges us to write a haiku about it or photograph it just so.

dguzman said...

I value curiosity. It's what makes life interesting, makes discover possible, makes us strive to learn more. It's what keeps me going when I feel I'm all out of inspiration, grace, humor, etc. I just can't shake the curiosity to hang around and learn more about this beautiful world and the people who live in it.

robin andrea said...

I value empathy. It is only in understanding how others feel and see the world that we can learn that we all belong to the same human tribe.

A wonderful post, Laura.

kwhary said...

Laura,
I would say (and agree) that being curious is very high on the list of things that make life important and meaningful. Curiosity seems to me to be the reason why a child would want to bring in a "show and tell" item in a bag. I still do show and tell when I find something cool growing or walking around my garden or out and about every day. A few weeks ago, I was walking to lunch and came across, on someone's front lawn, a weird looking, prickly seed pod with a nut inside. There were loads of them. I picked several up (very carefully mind you) and placed them in my lunch bag and took them back to work. (The neighbors must think I was some sort of wacko) I suspected that they were chestnuts by the look of the nut inside. Sure enough after a google search (google is awesome), they were in fact chestnuts. I kept a few for planting. I also keep show and tell items on the top of my desk shelf at work to bring a bit of nature inside and to show my co-workers. These natural items (acorns, pine cones, nuts, etc.) remind me of the universal design and similarity in all aspects of natures design. Cool stuff when you get down and really ( I mean really) look at them. We pass by this stuff everyday and pay no mind to it. Pick one up sometime and take a real look. You will find GOD there. If you don't see it there, you will never find it in a church. But thats another story. I think I need a blog. Hmmmm.....

Since everyone seems to be sharing quotations (which I love and collect. I just stole one off of this post! thanks Vicki ), I will share one from Albert Einstein, whom everyone knows as a great scientist. We would expect him to have a scientific and dry view of the world, but as this quotation shows (and others that I have from him), he has a very deep respect for the divine as found in nature. Here ya go...

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity." Albert Einstein

You go Albert !

Madcap said...

I love the idea of an adult show and tell. How liberating! I think I'm going to arrange one for the next time we get together with our circle of friends at Christmas or New Years.

kwhary said...

I just had a quote epiphany so I added my own quotation to my list. Cool.

"Curiosity, the seed of knowledge,
nurture, water and bring it to light,
for without these things,
the tree of knowledge will ne’r flourish." Me

LauraHinNJ said...

I have to say, just now when I really need to go to bed, that you all amaze me. Beautiful thoughts - thank you for sharing them. Until tomorrow. :-)

LauraHinNJ said...

Susan: Yes, but I can't imagine what that world would look like.

;-(

kgmom: Yes, humor is valuable. Some of us take ourselves too seriously! I think that humor can often help bring people together despite other differences.