The Value of Imagination

I discovered the value of imagination for myself a few years ago. Journey with me now to the land of imagination.  When I was a young boy of four, I was in the kitchen with my mother.  She was beginning to prepare a stew for dinner.  As I watched my mother cut the potatoes into squares and put them in the pot, I began to imagine how I could help.  Then I thought ‘I can hunt for rabbit!’ 

The Adventure Begins

I looked over to my right and there was the broom that was to be my rifle. I grabbed my weapon of choice and headed for the great outdoors. I stopped to say "Mom, I'm going to hunt rabbit for dinner." And off I went on my adventure.

I was stealthily crouching down, hiding behind bushes when I spotted two rabbits scampering across an open field. I aimed my rifle and fired.  Two rabbits with one shot; after all, I was an expert.  I ran to the lifeless prey and  grabbed them rabbits’ by the ear's. I hurried home with excitement and anticipation. I flung open the kitchen door, extended my clinched fist forward and shouted “Two rabbits mom!”

No one had to teach me the value of imagination back then, it came automatically.

The Value of Imagination

Imagination is the wonderful place where children live and explore their world.  What have you ever imagined?  Perhaps you have imagined winning the lottery.  Perhaps you'll have imagined enjoying every minute of it.

But, can imagination be a tool?  And if imagination can be a tool, of what value would it be and how would we use this new found tool?  Robert Kiasaki, author of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad thinks so.

Mr. Kiasaki introduced me to the value of imagination. He presented a new idea where I would learn and consult with people who are deceased; though he did not suggest that I summon the dead.  But rather, I should study the lives of successful people and choose a few to make my mentors. I should imagine them my close friends and allies.

Let me tell you about the two I have chosen; Benjamin Franklin and Christopher Columbus.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a prominent member of the Continental Congress.  Much of the time he spent listening or sleeping.  On occasion, Mr. Franklin would share his thoughts; never to offend and always with patience.  His colleague, John Adams, on the other hand expressed his thoughts continually and with great passion; though at times with little results.  On one occasion during a heated debate, John offended the gentleman from New York.

Benjamin Franklin invited John Adams to a drink after one such session.  He relayed that he too thought much the same way that John did.  John then asked “Why do you not speak your mind?” 

Mr. Franklin replied “All in due time Mr. Adams.”

Benjamin Franklin then added that he may want to refrain from insulting a colleague in public.  John replied “Should I not speak my mind?”

Franklin answered “No, Mr. Adams, speaking one's mind in public can be a dangerous place to go.  After all, most of the wars in Europe were fought over somebody speaking their mind.  But in private, it is okay to insult a colleague; sometimes they may even thank you for it.”

From my mentor Benjamin Franklin I learn temperance and patience.

Christopher Columbus

We all know that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Now this is a man who knew the value of imagination! We also know that in his day it was believed the earth was flat.  If someone were to sail too close to the edge, they would indeed fall off of the earth and be lost forever. 

During Columbus’ younger years, he had an inquisitive mind.  He did not merely accept the belief of the day, but was always striving to understand the world as it really was. He had determined that the earth was not flat, but round. 

If he were to sail far enough he would find the backside of India.  He asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for money to try out his idea of traveling west to reach the East. Queen Isabella refused Columbus at first. Later King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Columbus three ships, a crew of about ninety men, and some money.

Christopher Columbus could not get volunteers; after all, if you sail that far you fall off the earth.  But with confidence, Christopher searched and found a way. He took with him prisoners for a chance of a better life.  When he completed his journey there was a celebration and Christopher Columbus was a guest at the queens table.

A colleague challenged Columbus and said “Anybody with any sailing skills could navigate the west.”

After the comment, Christopher ordered from the kitchen that an egg be brought to each person at the table.  He held the egg up right and asked everyone to make the egg stand on end.  Though they tried, no one could get the egg to stand.

Then Christopher grabbed his own egg and slammed it to the table. He did so not hard enough to break, but enough to make the egg stand up tall. Pointedly he proclaimed, “Anyone can follow, once someone leads the way.”

The value of imagination in this instance was my mentor taught me to not accept blindly the knowledge of man, and to be creative in my thoughts.

I give this challenge. Think of two great people who are deceased.   Choose people you admire and study their lives. Understand how they think and how they act.  Then make them your mentors to counsel with and give you advice when needed. 

Mother's Have Always Understand the Value of Imagination

Remember those rabbits I hunted?  In my imagination, I actually saw those rabbits bouncing across the field.  I was a happy child, but never in my four years of life was I more blissful than when my mother reached out and grabbed those rabbits from me.  I watched her clean and prepare them.  She even placed them in the stew and put the lid back on the pot.  No longer was I alone in my imaginary world when my mother joined me.

biography.com - The Life of Benjamin Franklin

biography.com - The Life of Christopher Columbus

Contributed by DOUGLAS PALMER - JANUARY 2015