“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein
I’m one of those people who imagines … the best of people, life, situations, etc. So I imagine I’m a good teacher, good aunt to my 20+ nieces and nephews, good sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, etc. When I stumble, fumble, or all-around ‘bite it’ while walking up the stairs (trust me people, it’s possible) I laugh out loud. I imagine if I were watching “me” fall up the stairs, how ridiculous it would look and that causes the crazy laughter that I expel as I lay splayed on the steps leading up. All actions that don’t necessarily promote the idea that I’m a “sane,” adult person. I’m one of those people who laugh first and then, realizing I may appear heartless and maniacally evil, do the quick gasp intake and, “oh!”, and THEN rush to make sure the person who was hurt, embarrassed, or stunned, isn’t going to have any lasting ill effects. Of course, if you’re awkwardly looking around hoping no one saw you, I will oblige and pretend like I didn’t see you make a semi-fool out of yourself. I’m nice like that.
I’m also one of those awkward laugh-out-louders in the movie theater during films. My younger sister, Becca, will attest to the shame she feels as she sits next to me and I laugh “inappropriately” during a comedy. She either: 1. smacks me and quietly shushes me with all the venom within her (which isn’t a lot because, honestly, I love her and she’s a great person), 2. Turn turtle and slink down in her seat hoping fellow theatre patrons think I’m a psychiatric patient who has escaped my “safe room” and somehow was lucid enough to wander to a movie theatre, purchase a ticket for a comedy, and be “respectable” up until the spasm of laughter that escaped me, 3. Ignore me, but quietly seethe inside until, after the movie is over and we are walking out to the car, she can vent her frustration and disappointment on me, which subsequently sends me down into a spiral of shame from which I never fully recover, or 4. Rolls her eyes and ignores me, never to mention – again – how I laughed out loud in the movie theater and embarrassed her.
What can I say, I have a pretty good imagination and I tend to easily lose myself in things. I can get so wrapped up when reading that I literally forget where I am and am not aware of my surroundings. People can talk to me, but I don’t listen. They have to physically shake my arm in order to “wake me up” and realize there is a world outside of the words found on a page. (Note: This doesn’t just apply to books, but has also occurred with newspapers, poems, the backs of cereal boxes, and telephone books. Oh the wonder of the name Mike Smith. My imagination just tingles as I read that name on my screen. ;).
Movies aren’t really all that different for me. I willfully suspend my disbelief while watching movies. Yes, I know what is real and what isn’t, and I understand that the monsters on the screen, or futuristic robots, or people getting killed aren’t real – but try telling THAT to my imagination as it does business in the currency of “what if”. This easy immersion of my mind into what is happening on the screen is why I don’t watch scary movies. As was previously mentioned before, I realize that Chucky isn’t real, but what if? I also understand that Chewbacca isn’t flying around in space somewhere, but what if he was? I also know that what is being played out on the screen is done by people paid to act, emote, and present their characters in a specific light; however, please don’t ask me to be comfortable with someone being embarrassed. I have a weird thing about unintentional and malicious embarrassment in movies – I hate it! I’m sure there’s some link to an earlier incident in my childhood which has resulted in scars I attempt to deal with as the fully functional adult that stands before you now, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter that embarrassing someone isn’t cool. When I know someone is about to be humiliated or embarrassed on the screen I either get up and leave the room (especially if someone else is watching the movie with me) because I don’t think the character needs another witness to their shame, or I cover my eyes and/or look away from the screen for the same reason as stated earlier.
Does all of this imagination make me weird and odd? Um, probably, but I embrace my weirdness since it’s not really hurting anyone. I also believe that my active imagination allows me to better understand and have fun with those younger than me: my students, nieces and nephews, children of co-workers or friends, etc. This ability to imagine serves a dual purpose of easily relating to kids (as I learned yesterday when I took four of my nieces and nephews, ranging in ages from 14 to 3 years-old, to the movie “Despicable Me” and Chucky Cheese (Chucky Jesus if you’re a three year-old) and enjoyed their unique imagination and perspective toward life) as well as seeing the possibilities and what if’s of life and actions. I honestly think it helps me, as a teacher, see the potential within my student’s writing and help to encourage them as they work to better their written communication skills and learn that Spot, the dog, doesn’t just run, but he leaps, bounds, wriggles his butt when he wags his tail, licks, slobbers, and does so many more evocative and interesting things than a single, one-dimensional world would have us believe. Digging beneath the surface and seeing what else is possible or being said is what I hope my students learn – all things which live in the realm of imagination and what if.
So that’s the mindset I try to inhabit as I go forward and attempt to finally read and grade my student’s papers today. Serenity now!