Bird Droppings May 24, 2021
Why not just imagine?
I shared a few words from a song yesterday as I thought about my father and father-in-law. The words were borrowed from the great songwriter, poet and singer Bob Dylan from a song that has been covered by so many great bands and singers. AS I listen to Knockin on Heaven’s doors whether it is by Guns and Roses, Roger McGuinn, Eric Clapton, and or many other great bands and singers I still remember my youngest son’s version from various talent shows and programs. He would do a Axl Rose Bob Dylan duet of sorts with harmonica. But that last time I heard hm sing the song has stuck with me the most. It was the night my father passed away. I was thinking my dad and Bob Dylan yesterday. Bob Dylan turned 80 and it’s been fourteen years since my father has passed on.
I am sitting here listening to Blood on the tracks by Dylan I consider one of his best albums perhaps because of memories associated with it. I first heard this album playing in a friend’s car and asked what it was I knew it was Dylan but had not heard the songs. This was in Macon Georgia in 1975 right after the Album was released. I bought the eight track, later the cassette, and even later the CD, and finally downloaded in my Apple music one of the first I downloaded. My title today is about imagination. So why even bring up Dylan. He is recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as the greatest songwriter of all time, he is in the rock and roll hall of fame, and many considered him the greatest poet of our time. So why consider Dylan and imagination? I was looking for lyrics and by chance found a copy of Dylan’s notebook for Blood on the Tracks. Pages of words scribbled and notated dated and crossed out words. Poetry and songwriting is a brilliant form of creativity. Painting with words, creating an image we each can see if we listen and reflect. So, imagination, why not just imagine?
Some days I wonder if adults I know have ever imagined even considered imagination. For example, have you ever lain on your back watching clouds trying to determine if this one is a dragon or a whale? I was driving home from Georgia Tech with my son and his roommate many years ago. They were planning on going to the premiere of the new Star Wars movie. As we drove my son mentioned an article, he read about video games and creativity. It was probably the exact opposite of what many of us would say, evidently this particular report indicated video games and their realism and such increase brain capacity for imagination. I will not vouch for that one, however. But I do know I do not see creativity and imagination among youngsters perhaps as much as I would like too anymore.
So many adults have chosen a rigid world of exactness, self-centeredness, and parameters tight around themselves sort of little boxes of comfort and calmness. They are often limiting themselves only to a few inches of space in this vast universe, stodgily staying within the lines and forcing others to do so as well. By dictionary terms creativity is “the ability to create”, that is a simple version of a complex idea.
“Some people will only love you as long as you fit in their box. Don’t be afraid to disappoint them” Lecrae Moore
“The creative process is the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other.” Carl Rogers
A synthesis of things people have and hold on to in one hand and what the available materials might be on the other.
“One sees from this that genius: 1) is a talent to produce that to which no specific rules can be applied, not that to which learned and practiced skills can be applied; therefore, that originality is its primary characteristic. 2) Since there can also be original non-sense, its products are at the same time examples, i.e., that they must be exemplary; in fact, though themselves not products of imitation, they must serve as such for other products, that is, as measures or rules of judgment. 3) It cannot describe or scientifically establish how it brings its product about; rather, as an expression of nature simply provides the measure. Therefore, the creator of such a product does not know himself how the ideas come about, and does not have the ability to come up with these ideas at will or according to a plan, and cannot communicate a set of rules by which one could bring about similar products. (Presumably for this reason one uses the word “genius,” which also means a spirit who accompanies a human at birth, protects and guides him.) 4) Nature prescribes to art rather than science through genius; and this only insofar as art desires to be an art form.” W. Miller, Duke University
A long-winded definition that actually raises more questions than it defines. Creativity is a most difficult word to clearly define. Years ago, back to my youngest son who was being tested for “the gifted class”; his second-grade teacher saw glimpses of something a bit more than average children his age. His IQ test bolstered her thoughts, and his achievement tests were ok nothing that would knock you down and his grades well in some areas one hundred percent plus in some areas and in others that he was not interested in well he was passing. However, in Georgia at that time gifted labeling required a battery of tests and three out of four tests the child should exceed in to be considered gifted. This little kid had two out of four and indicator of grades was a loss, so he had to ace creativity test. So, on the given day the school psychologist took him aside and tested. The test was given and scored and given again several more times since the first one was obviously flawed and finally by the third time and similar results, she decided it was a real score. It seems he was off the charts in creativity and the tester had never scored a second-grade student so high.
I immediately pointed to genetics as a factor standing tall and puffing my chest out a bit. It was with that he ended up in gifted class. Since that time, I have been impressed with teachers and parents who encourage their children to imagine, to ponder and think beyond the required tasks assigned. After the testing, the teacher who tested my son asked if we did anything out of the ordinary. His spontaneous answers were what floored her in testing. Since he was four or so every day as I drove him to school, we would make up stories taking turns adding to the plot or even to what we were making up a story about. My father’s grandpa Niper (my great grandfather) stories were embellished and expanded often for days.
Some days the stories would be of imaginary creatures and often it was a contest to stump me with a creature I could not make up a story about and only once was I stumped. I do not recall the request and or what monster he had come up. But my son initiated the process and would offer twists and turns as we built the story. My kids grew up in the middle of 183 acres of farmland and they would often find their way to Paradise a pile of rocks and stones sitting on a slab of granite in amongst several trees. They would build tiny villages and forts with pebbles and small stones and take match box cars along to add to their game. Even today the word Paradise conjures up vivid memories for my kids and imagination and every once in a while, I will get asked to retell a Grandpa Niper story especially now that grandbabies are getting to storytelling age. We need to encourage each other teachers and parents not to hinder imagination. We need to stop infringing our limitations and our boxes and parameters on children’s minds and souls. We need to imagine as well and live each moment. So, it will be summer break soon and I will more than likely be telling Grandpa Niper stories to my grandkids. I am sitting in my office at home upstairs writing pondering and as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to give thanks always namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)