When I was about three, my parents bought me a play kitchen. It had a telephone, a sink, food, and dishes, everything a little girl would need. You would think that such an interesting toy would merit some attention from a young child. To me, the kitchen was useless. At first, my mom tried to convince me to play with the plastic appliances. When I refused, my mother joked, claiming dejectedly, “She has no imagination.” Now, at any family get-together, be it a birthday party or Thanksgiving dinner, the family discusses dreams and wishes for the future. As in any family, memories seem to pop up—funny reminders of past mistakes, past misjudgments. Whenever I share with my family any new idea—a clever project for school, or a book I plan to write, my grandmother always turns to my mother and laughingly says “and you thought she had no imagination.”
Hearing that relatively simple statement through the years taught me a powerful lesson about the power of imagination. You see, even when my mother humorously said I had no imagination, she unknowingly condemned me to a world without dreams or wishes. This misconception opened my eyes to the realization that imagination is not just fairy tale princesses and pots of gold. No, imagination is having the power to look beyond our first impressions and see what someone can become, or see what someone can do. Imagination is having the power to choose optimism.
This optimism of imagination leads us to envision the way the world could be. By moving beyond stereotypes and preconceived ideas we can embrace change and learn to dream big. There is, however, a condition that comes with imagination. One of my favorite movie lines is the well known saying from Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility.” The power of imagination is great—too great to hide behind. If we live in our imaginations, we do ourselves a great disservice. By refusing to seek better things, we are denying ourselves better things. There will always be war, hate, violence, hunger, and disparity, but closing our eyes to the ugly realities of our world doesn’t make those realities any less real. It is our responsibility to imagine, to dream, to hope, and to wish for a better future. Because only by imagining change will it ever come about.
My mother has long since refuted her comment about my imagination, but the moral still rings true. If we are truly an open-minded society, we should be breaking out of the bonds that tie us down. We should relinquish our first impressions and learn to accept the responsibility that comes with imagination. So I question myself. Am I dreaming big enough? Am I reaching far enough? Am I using my imagination? Or am I letting that gift, that power to choose optimism go to waste?
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