Imagine that…

November 25, 2022

A quote I think I got from the Jack’s Winning Words blog was my inspiration this morning (as often happens) – “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” (Mae Jemison)

Jack went on to write – Mae Jemison — who in 1992 became the first Black woman to travel into space — was forced to contend with people’s limited imaginations throughout her pioneering career. I’ll leave that to your imagination; although it is not hard to imagine.

One’s imagination can be limited or influenced by many things – ignorance and prejudice are two. In the case of Mae Jemison it was probable a combination of the two for most people who could not “see” her as an astronaut. A similar story was made into the film Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. It is loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. (Wikipedia)

In both cases the imaginations of many to see the black women as mathematicians or as an astronaut was limited or redirected by ignorance and prejudice. Also, in both cases, the women involved did not let that stop them from being or becoming what they imagined themselves to be.

While the majority of us may never feel the limitations and sting of prejudice, we do sometimes let the imaginations (or lack thereof) of others hold us back. Being told that you are not smart enough, or strong enough, or brave enough to do something or that “you can’t do that” for reasons never fully explained, serves to set artificial boundaries in our lives…unless challenged.

Sometimes the limited imagination is shown through oversight or being ignored. Nobody expected greatness when Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. I can imagine that Brady sat there through round after round of the 2000 NFL draft wondering why no one could see the potential greatness that he could imagine in himself.

The similarity of those two very different situations is that both Jemison and Brady believed in themselves. They could both imagine themselves in the roles that they were being denied in the imaginations of others. They also combined that with a hard work ethic that helped them never to give up on their dream or imagination about themselves.

There is no way to avoid the limited imaginations of others about you, whether it is driven by ignorance, indifference, or prejudice. The key is not to let what others think of you influence what you think of yourself. Keep your goals out in front of you and keep imagining yourself achieving those goals. Let that imagined achievement motivate you to put in the hard work that may be needed to get to that goal.

Remember that The little engine that could in the book you read as a child achieved his goal; of reaching the top of the hill because he did not believe those who said that he could not. His mantra was, “I think I can, I think I can.” He continued thinking that until he did. You can, too. Like Mae Jemison, don’t let yourself be limited by other people’s imagination of what you can accomplish. Just keep imagining “I think I can” and you will.

Imagine that.


What do you see?

July 29, 2019

In today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog this quote is used – “I shut my eyes in order to see.”  (Paul Gauguin).

Jack went on to write about imagination and seeing “in the mind’s eye”. He even referenced John Lennon and his song Imagine, which he wrote as he imagined world peace for a world that seems to be constantly at war.

Athlete’s, especially those at the highest levels of their sport often use “visualization”, Tiger Woodswhich is a form of imagining to “see” the play or shot that they are about to try, in order to practice and perfect it in their minds. Note that imagination starts with the same root as image – the visualization of something.

man daydreamingMany of us likely spend some time imagining what we might do with the money as we buy our Lottery tickets. It is amazing how generous we can be in our minds with imaginary money. I wonder how many would carry through on that imagined generosity if they actually won. I wonder what I would do?

For many, a time of prayer is also a time when we close our eyes, so that we can “see”. What we are looking for is our imagined image of God. With the exception of those who saw Jesus when He was on earth, no one has actually seen God; so we all try to imaginepraying what He will look like.

There is a tendency for people to use the phrase “the face of God”, but that is limiting your imagination to your own human frame of reference. Why do we limit ourselves to imagining that God looks like us? How egotistical is that?

There is a cute commercial running right now about Chees-zits crackers in which one character tries to quiet a big wheel of cheese by putting his hand over what would be the location of a mouth on a human face. The wheel of cheese exclaims, “You think I have a mouth. I’m a wheel of cheese.” Perhaps God is saying to us, “You think I look like you? I’m God!” Let your imagination soar. Get outside the limits of your human existence and “see” God.

woman-prayingSo, close your eyes and look for God. Perhaps it is in closing our eyes and shutting off the key way that we see and perceive the real world around us that we allow our minds to imagine the God that is not of this world, but of the world to come. Let your imagination take you there. Perhaps along the way your imagination will encounter “the peace that passes all understanding” – Philippians 4:7.

Close your eyes and pray. What do you see? Can you see God?