Imagination created the world. Supposedly (and you may have a different view) in the beginning, some great deity imagined a ball, spinning in space, with lakes and rivers and mountains. Then that same figure imagined people, two-legged creatures with brains, who would one day themselves imagine all sorts of wonderful inventions that would change the world into the one we live in today.
Imagination made life much better for people with disabilities. At one time in history (or so I imagine) those of us with mobility difficulties probably didn’t move about much. We might have just sat about on our own, while everybody else went about life; hunting, fishing, and all those other things a person had to do in those days to survive. Then one day some clever person invented the wheel, which eventually became part of the wheelchair, a device that enables many of us to navigate this world smoothly and efficiently (most of the time!)
Much, much later in history, somebody thought it would be good to give those who can’t walk because of spinal injuries a chance to get back up on our feet again, so they invented a pair of wrap-around bionic legs to make this happen. Countless other inventions – communicators for people who have difficulty with speech, hearing aids for those with hearing difficulties, reachers for those of us who are (like me) “vertically challenged” – all came about because somebody thought “Hmmm – wouldn’t it be good if there was an invention to help with…“ and immediately got to work, imagining it into being.
Some of that imagination came about under pressure. I’m particularly grateful for a guy whose son was born with the same condition I was, at the end of the 1950’s, called John Holter. He had the idea of making a shunt, to relieve something we call hydrocephalus, and countless others have had our lives saved (or have been prevented from serious illness) because of it. Unfortunately, his baby son only lived for a short while after receiving one, but I’m grateful he and others persisted with it over the years, and improved it to where it is today.
Someone else invented computers, and the internet – the method of communication through which I am talking to you today. (You may or may not think that’s a good thing!)
“Don’t let your imagination run away with you” – that used to be the caution from parents when I was a child, and the adults around you wanted you to keep your feet on the ground – to keep from dreaming up schemes you could never follow through with (or so they thought), or alternatively, to let your fear stop you from doing things they knew you could do.
Imagine, though, if there was no imagination. The world would have stayed the same, people hanging out in their caves (too cold to go outside – after all, nobody had imagined warm clothes!) We would have soon been very hungry, because there was no way of coming up with methods of hunting or fishing. And forget being entertained, because no-one would have imagined dancing, storytelling, games – let alone the later inventions of TV, movies, or the World Wide Web!
So, the next time you dream up some fantastic idea, say “thank you” to your imagination – because nobody’s ever thought of that idea in exactly the way you have. All of us are unique, and our ideas, thoughts and dreams are also unique.