Imagination builds the world we all want to live in

The apartment before me curved in odd directions. It consisted of nine rooms, one exclusively for pets, along with a swimming pool, observatory and roller coaster that moved in and out of the bedrooms. I’ve never seen a more fascinating dwelling place.

Let me explain.

A highlight of my week is when I read to first graders at Bowie Elementary School. Apart from being a lot of fun, studies show that when children are read to and encouraged to read, they develop literacy skills and an interest in reading, leading to increased confidence and broadened horizons.

The teachers at Bowie also recognize that simply talking to children benefits cognitive development and social skills. So on a few occasions they have asked me and others to create a project with a child, talking along the way.

That morning the student wanted to make an apartment out of pipe cleaners. She started with a private room for her mom, a place all to herself. She said, “This is where my baby brother will sleep,” pointing to a small enclosure. “He cries a lot. I wish I didn’t share a room with him.”

The roller coaster launched from her bedroom. Why not? Her favorite place is Six Flags.

The more she built, the more excited she became about the possibilities. The dream was shaping in her mind. It grew until time was called and we had to dismantle her project.

We all need a dream. When we stop dreaming, something dies within us.

For some, dreams of a better life emanate from a faith perspective, a dance with the infinitely creative Divine. Henry Miller said, “Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything.” Though God creates, the world is not as it should be. Humans can build and bless, but also destroy and curse. Dreams of a better world drive change.

For others, dreams of a more peaceful, productive or purposeful life come from within. Something compels these persons to believe that the world should be better for them having lived to the fullest. They’re on a quest toward a better self, navigating between the life they have and the life they want.

From wherever dreams come, we can’t do without them.

In the years before my son graduated from high school, I listened to his dreams. Now, it’s reciprocal. He asks me about my dreams. Before leaving for college, he gave me a book by Dallas Clayton called “It’s Never Too Late.” Clayton asks:

“What will you be? What will you give?

And what will you make of these moments you live?

You could be bigger and you could be better,

And you could mend hearts just by writing a letter,

Just by telling a story or sharing a smile,

Or sitting and talking and laughing a while.”

We all need someone with whom we can share our dreams. It gives us courage to begin to build, piece by piece.