This I Believe

Michael - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on November 28, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: children

I believe in the power of the imagination.

My imagination is comprised of hope, creative thinking, prayer, and a dash of old fashioned self delusion. For years I have known that when I imagine something will happen, it often does happen.

I remember how nervous I was my senior year of high school in 1969. Not knowing exactly how and if things would work out after graduation made me anxious, but I knew in my marrow that they would. They did just that as I began and then completed my college education and followed it with a teaching job. I began to recognize my imagination as a powerful constant in my life.

Like many families, my wife and I faced financial problems as we raised our two sons in the 1980s and 1990s. Earning a degree, finding a good job and working hard does not make a family immune to adversity. Credit card debt was every bit as vile as we’d been warned. Yet, like many others, we built up debt. But I imagined that somehow we would dig our way out. And we did.

If it sounds like my life has largely been easy, be assured that I know heartache.

In September of 2005, my oldest son began serving a prison term in New York State for possession of guns. The pain this has caused him, his parents and his brother defies vocabulary. He didn’t hurt anyone, nor was he trying to. He knows he exercised poor judgment, and he is sorry he did. But in our post-9/11 world, our country exacts a large price from those found with guns when they should not have them. He is now a member of a staggeringly fast-growing segment of our population. He is an inmate in a correctional facility. How did this happen to this loving young man who was – still is – the apple of his parent’s eyes? Despite the sadness I am experiencing, my imagination still works. I marvel that it hasn’t been snuffed out.

I am able to imagine the four of us together again under my roof. That is the most important thing I am able to imagine, and I thank God for this.

I imagine my wonderful oldest son continuing to find ways to hold on to hope and his sense of humor. So far so good. He is remarkably strong, although I know he endures some very low days.

I imagine a criminal justice system that makes itself more comprehensible to ordinary individuals who find themselves face to face with it.

I imagine members of our extended family caring about what has happened to their beloved relative in prison. This has largely come to pass, and it has been stunning. Family members have been transformed into heroes.

Let your imagination serve as an engine that powers you through stressful times. I believe in the power of my imagination. I also believe in the power of your imagination.