She asked me if I would like to play tea with such an earnest voice, I had to just say yes. I watched her run quickly to the next room and carefully removed the teapot from the shelf. Once back in the kitchen, she climbed up to the sink and filled it with water. My instructions were to sit on the floor. In her mind – and then in my mind – the room transformed into some other unknown place where she and I were drinking lemon flavored tea and eating biscuits (which looked suspiciously like water and jelly beans). But to us – at that time – it was truly tea and biscuits.
Several hours later, after she and I had left that moment, and after she had left my home, I took off for my daily run. Tennis shoes – check. Hair tie – check. IPod and headphones – check, check. My body was ready to go, but my mind was telling me that I was tired, that I didn’t have time, that the weather wasn’t the greatest, that I should just forget it and call it a day. I was ready to turn around, give up on the exercise idea, head back into my house for a little “R & R” or maybe a lot of “R & R”.
Mindlessly, I flipped on my music and began listening to the Sherman Brothers tell me about a magical world . . . the world between awake and asleep, between real and pretend. Magic Journeys. I watched a bird skim the sky overhead and fly beyond the treeline. Slowly but steadily, I was again transformed to another time and another place. This time, however, it wasn’t sitting in a castle drinking tea and eating biscuits.
With my imagination at work – I began to picture myself as a quick and speedy. I could see myself many moons prior, running as if nothing could stop me. The more the music played, the more I imagined myself, not being tired, or unmotivated, but having that trail-blazing, never say stop exercising attitude.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that my mind was rewriting the moment. I spent the next hour running what I thought was like the wind! Not because I was, for I assure you that my speed right now is generally the same – somewhere between slow and slower, but it felt different. And I finished. And I smiled.
I have spend a great deal of time thinking about those two moments. The focus, however, isn’t on the tea party or the run, rather it is on my imagination.
As a child, I recall using my imagination all of the time. Cardboard boxes became castles. The backyard soccer game became the Women’s World Cup. I was Peggy Fleming when I put on ice-skates, and Carole King when I played the piano. I directed orchestras, danced on American Bandstand, flew, had the best presidential acceptance speech, and walked down those fashion runways like a pro.
Children use imagination all the time. The world encourages it. But somewhere within my childhood, I packed up that imagination and headed for adulthood.
I admit that it might look crazy-funny for me to sit in a cardboard box, with my soccer ball, ice-skates, piano, baton, ballet shoes, wings, type-written speech, and platform shoes – all day long. And I am thankful that adulthood has taught me that I need to be a little more realistic that my five-year old self.
I suppose what I am trying to learn is which parts of imagination are behind me and which parts are still in front of me. Mark Twain tells me that I can’t depend on my eyes when my imagination is out of focus. And Albert Einstein tells me that imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire work, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution; and strictly speaking, it is a real factor in scientific research.
For the remainder of 2016, I am going to dust off my imagination. I am going to look at it like one of the most versatile tools in my box and use it every change I get. My approach isn’t going to be via the tea party model (however, I am not ruling anything out), but more towards the running/transformation model.
I want to look more at what can be than what is. I want to see the potential rather than seeing the status. I want to practice imagining all that can be – in all facets of my life – just to see what might happen. I want to learn more about what happens when imagination is let loose. What happens when I just unleash it and give it a go at all turns. I want to wonder more about everything, just to see the results.
I have no idea where this idea may take me. I can only imagine.