This I Believe.
I believe in the power of imagination.
When I was about five years old, I used to color with crayons on the hot light bulb of the lamp in my bedroom. The wax would blend and flow in the heat, creating a world of animated color I could escape into for hours. It was radiant color before color television appeared. Once, I carelessly left the lampshade resting against the lit bulb so that on returning later to the room, a smoking hole was burned through the shade and the colors had vaporized in the white heat of the naked bulb and its threat of fire. In a nightmare shortly afterwards, the white light not only consumes the lampshade, but the whole room. Lying awake in terror, my imagination allowed the light to consume the whole universe as well. My father had to calm me back to sleep with his own abstract crayon sketching.
From then on, I knew my imagination could create both beautiful and terrible things. My imagination shows me the past and the future, the creation of the universe, but also my son growing into adulthood. My imagination visualizes an invisible soul, where it might have been, and where it might go. My imagination allows me to fly, to zoom into space or soar over a mountain to escape a moment of boredom. My imagination pictures the lives of neighbors so I can connect to them. And it shapes the painting on the easel in my studio. My imagination visualizes my wife cured of breast cancer. It shows me frightening dangers, but also solutions to problems. My imagination provides me the can-do attitude to try new things and to do things I have never done before, build an earth-sheltered solar house (that was after the first oil crisis), bicycle four hundred miles to the ocean, or learn to play the piano as an aging adult. Even though my imagination can see our total destruction or smaller disasters that sometimes keep me awake at night, I prefer to use my imagination to dream about the future, perhaps even shape that future a little, and to have hope.
Usually, my imagination anticipates the safe routine of the day ahead. When I wake up, I can see my wife, now asleep, sharing coffee with me later in the morning. I look forward to our son’s cheer as we share our breakfast before school and then his stories when he returns. My imagination connects me with friends and family far away and it anticipates the simple pleasures of a bicycle ride I hope to take in the afternoon. Whether my imagination provides me with vast dreams or my daily routine, I know that in the end, my imagination allows me to believe to begin with.
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