Imagine the Chicago Cubs
I believe in the power of imagination.
Driving home one summer evening after visiting relatives out of state, I remembered that the Chicago Cubs, my favorite baseball team, were playing. I turned on the radio.
My wife asked, “What do you get out of just listening to the ball game? It’s boring. You have to be at the ball park to really enjoy the game.” Even television is better, she told me. At least you see the action.
True. Nothing beats being at the ball park. You see the players, the infield, the outfield, you hear the crack of the ball, you smell the hot dogs, join the enthusiasm of fellow fans.
But if you cannot be there in person, if you only have a radio wave on a long road, it can still be exciting. All you need is that missing ingredient: imagination.
When I was a boy late at night, supposedly asleep, I could hear the radio in our kitchen even though my bedroom door was closed. My dad listened to Cubs games being broadcast from out of town. I couldn’t be at that game many miles away. Yet through the power of imagination (and a good sense of hearing) I had a seat behind home plate. When Ernie Banks hit a home run, I saw the ball whoosh through the air, a clothes line into the left field stands. When Fergie Jenkins threw a strike past the opposing player, I felt the ball slap into the catcher’s mitt.
From this modest beginning imagination has played a vital part in the continuing journey of my life, from going across country after college for a job writing computer programs to simulate the trajectory of the Apollo space flights; to going to law school and defending prison wardens when they were sued by inmates for violation of their civil rights; to recently finishing my Masters in Fine Arts degree in Fiction Writing and working on my first novel–which incidentally, needs a good shot of imagination.
But opportunities for using one’s imagination seem to be rarer and rarer. We live in a world where you get up to the second news on your cell phone, where you go online 24/7 to Google an answer to any question or concern you have (never mind thinking), where global positioning devices get you precisely where you want to go without any detours, where reality shows trump comedies and drama on TV and you have access to hundreds of cable channels, some of which leave little to the…well, you know.
So when I am on a road hundreds of miles from home, when I can’t be at the Cubs game I can still be there. My ticket of admission is a radio and my imagination.