In 1996, there was an international Conference on Women held in Beijing. I remember this because I wanted to go so badly my heart hurt. I was, however, horrifically poor – working my first job at a Japanese company with an absurdly unimportant job and an even sadder salary. I wanted to go to this event to hear Hilary Clinton address the world (interested in global women’s issues) about global women’s issues.
Somewhere in my trunk of inspiration, there is a political cartoon of her speech at this event. In the word baloon is written, “I dream of a world in which all women are free to grow up to be criticized by Rush Limbaugh.” or something to that effect. I love that cartoon.
I love that cartoon because it is both hopeful and honest.
Back then, I imagined myself to be becoming someone important. I imagined myself becoming a leader – socially, politically, internationally. I had not yet acknowledged my ignorance, my indiscretion, my offensiveness – mostly because I was unaware of them. I had a precocious ambition that was a carry-over from my childhood. I had an imagination.
A friend of mine recently told me that she finished her book – a work of fiction. She and I share the goal of being published authors (not self-published bloggers!). And while I’ve heard that the work of getting published begins with finishing the book, I am so impressed with her accomplishment. She has imagined not only herself as a writer, but also the storyline, characters, and detail to make it happen.
Imagination as an adult is such an inspiring thing.
How many of us have allowed the adversity of daily life to box us into what others expect?
How many of us have quietly packed up dreams to be stored in the closet or under the bed?
How many of us have donated our aspirations to someone else because it was easier to encourage them than ourselves?
I worked with a man who recently threw himself and his wife a fortieth birthday party where everyone dressed as who they wanted to be when they “grew up.” When I heard this theme, I thought it was brilliantly creative and oh-so-fun! What a comical scene of friends as doctors, rockstars, pilots, firemen, teachers, nuns, and scientists.
What I wonder, though, is how many people dressed as themselves?
Imagination is the process of mentally creating something that doesn’t exist in reality. When you imagined yourself grown, who did you picture? Who do you picture now?
I know that when I feel my lowest, I am not using my imagination. When I see things as they are and feel hopelessly beaten by my weight or the economy or the dangerously-high pile of dishes in the sink, my image of something better has been folded neatly and tucked away with clippings and cartoons that once inspired.
But unlike my pre-baby jeans, my imagination fits perfectly everytime I try it on. Unlike my retirement fund, my imagination is never insufficient. Unlike the dishes in the sink, my imagination doesn’t stink up the joint.
My imagination keeps safe the image of me that makes me proud and hopeful and honest. I really like ‘her;’ I still want to be ‘her.’