“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” Attributed, maybe incorrectly, to Gandhi.
Transferring your imagination from your heart to the real world can be a challenge. Inspired to search out the top 10 inventions of all time I was surprised how different the lists were – the printing press and internet were in each list I checked, while language and the wheel were in only one of them, and the plane didn’t seem to figure very highly either. I’m not sure which invention I am most grateful for, although any invention which seems to defy the laws of nature, like a plane, are awe-inspiring. To me the thought of taking on an immutable law is the sign of an extraordinary mind.
I am extraordinarily grateful for these extraordinary minds – the ones which have delved in to their imagination in a way which is, well….extraordinary! What makes certain people decide not settle for what we already have and want to push beyond the boundary of ‘what is’ to leap the invisible threshold to ‘what if’?
Henry Ford was so insistent that his company create a V8 engine cast from one single block that he ignored the apparent fact that this was an impossible task. He simply repeatedly instructed his team to carry on until they made it happen. (Source: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/bboogaar/why.htm)
The plane, and the science of aeronautics, was developed by Sir George Cayley 100 years before Orville and Wright flew to acclaim in the Kitty Hawke. And his first design was a helicopter! So was he following in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci who drew the Ornithopter, the plausible inspiration of this fabulous flying beast?
Can you imagine what our world would be like without pioneering imagineers bringing us the wheel, electricity, the printing press, penicillin, language, and one of my favourite, the combustion engine! You might not even exist if your parents weren’t able to meet on that wonderful holiday in Morocco, which they heard about on the internet and flew to in a plane, after catching a train to the airport, having earned their money from teaching English as a foreign language!
So what does it take for a persons imagination to break its bonds and entertain an impossible thought? Does everyone have the potential for such leaps and flights of soaring fantasy? What is the difference between imagination and fantasy and what makes an invisible idea coalesce in to something we can see, feel and experience in the here and now?
There is a distinct difference between imagination and fantasy. I indulged a lot in fantasy when I was younger. The things I dreamed up were never anything I truly expected to become real. They just entertained me much like a good book or a film. Whereas now I experience ideas in my imagination as things which have aliveness and when they truly pique my interest I start to act on them. These action steps, followed over time, bring my imagination to life. Some things take only a few moments, others take far longer and some may never come fully to fruition – a lot depends on how much of my interest gets invested. When we give time and attention to our imagination we can leap across the divide between ‘what is’ and ‘what if’ in the same way a forest fire with the wind behind it can jump fire breaks.
Albert Einstein said, “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.” I used to believe there were only a small number of gifted individuals able to make these leaps from ‘what is’ to ‘what if’, but now the thought that we may all have similar ‘seeds of greatness’ is far more appealing.
What if each one of us had at least one extraordinary flight of imagination waiting for the fuel of our attention, the passion of our hearts, and the focus of our minds to burst forth with a big bang in to existence?With this in mind are you the kind of person to encourage and fan those tiny initial flames in to a burning roar, or are you the proverbial bucket of cold water dousing anything which tries to light the gloom of conformity?
I’m in the former camp. I am also a storyteller and have been using the medium of the written word for the last fourteen months in particular as I write my trilogy Waking the Lions. But there are lots of books out there and lots of ideas. How many books out of the thousands written each year get published? And how many of those go on to be a real success? Here’s to fanning the flames of my imagination and choosing to focus on the end result I’d love – after all, if I don’t focus on it, who will?
What impossibility are you going to bring to life this year?
(Source of image: http://imgarcade.com/1/ornithopter-flying-machine-leonardo-da-vinci/ )