Inspiration and imagination are highly underrated.
***Hat tip to Peter C. for inspiration for this gem.***
Driving his make-believe fire engine close to his grandfather, Jonathan said, “Vroomm, Vroomm. Look, Grandpa. I’m a fire truck.”
“Are you now?” the old man said a hint of a smile on his wrinkled face.
“Yeah. I distinguished two fires and saved three people and two babies, all in one single day,” the boy said excitedly.
Again the boy’s grandfather smiled at his grandson, this time at the boy’s failed attempt of a large word. How he wished he could actually see the excited boy’s face, to have one momentary glimpse of the utter joy.
“Did you go anywhere else today?” the grandfather asked.
“No. It’s pretty boring around here, ‘cept for saving people’s lives.”
Now is the time, the grandfather thought. Now is the perfect time.
“Saving people’s lives? That sounds pretty exciting to me.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Well, Son, if you’re so bored, how about you and me, how about we go on a little trip together?”
The boy looked up at his grandfather. “But Grandpa, how can…” he paused. “How can we go on a journey together. I mean, you, uh, you can’t see, can you?”
“Let me ask you something, Jonathan. If you couldn’t see and I could, would you want to go with me on this journey?”
“Uh, yeah, I think so. But I’m not old enough to drive.”
“Who said anything about driving, Jonathan? We’re going to go on my boat.”
“On your boat? But, Grandpa, you haven’t sailed for years.”
“Actually, I have, Jonathan. Every day in fact. Every day I sail the wide, wide ocean in search of a dream, in search of the best view possible.”
The silence was louder than the grandfather’s words.
“But, Grandpa, I don’t understand. How can you go on a trip when you spend so much time with Grandma? And, and you can’t see.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about it, Jonathan. I don’t have to leave home to go on my voyages. I can do it at my kitchen table.”
“Your kitchen table?”
The grandfather laughed.
“Yes, my kitchen table. Or from my living room. Or from my bedroom.”
Jonathan sighed. Grandpa reached out an arm to put around the boy. “Still don’t understand, do you?”
“Close your eyes.”
“Okay, Grandpa, now what?”
“What do you see, Jonathan?”
“Nothing. I can’t see anything, Grandpa. My eyes are closed.”
“Wait a minute. Be still.”
They both waited; the boy squirmed on the floor.
“Now, what do you see, Jonathan?”
“Nothing, Grandpa. I still have my eyes closed.”
“I see that we’re on a boat. It’s not a large boat, but we’re sailing on the ocean. Do you see the boat, Jonathan?”
“No, Grandpa. My eyes are still closed.”
“Open your eyes and look at me, Jonathan.”
“Yes, Grandpa, I’m looking at you.”
“Good. Why do you think I can see the boat and you can’t?”
“Maybe you just remember what the boat looks like, Grandpa.”
“That’s exactly right. When you were playing Fire Truck a few minutes ago, why were you making that noise? Vroom Vroom I believe it was.”
“Yeah, that’s the sound a pickup truck makes.”
“But Jonathan, there’s no fire truck in the room.”
“Grandpa, it’s a pretend fire truck.”
The Grandfather folded his arms and waited.
“Ah, now I get it. It’s a pretend boat, isn’t it?”
“Something like that. It’s more than that. You see, that little mind of yours is powerful. Bridges are built in there. Skyscrapers are designed. Even the fire truck you were imitating was in someone’s head before he built it. Everything we see around us was created in our heads first.”
“Hmmm. Does it have to do with thinking?”
“Yes, yes and no. We have to think, yes, but we also have to imagine.”
“Then what do we imagine?”
“Anything you want?”
“Anything?” Jonathan said.
Jonathan again paused to reflect on the words he had just heard.
“So, now, Jonathan, close your eyes and tell me what you see,” Grandpa said.
Jonathan closed his eyes tightly and waited. “I see a ship and a lot of large blue waves. There are other boats out there too. Big boats. With sails. Big white sails. And a lighthouse. Say, Grandpa?” Jonathan opened his eyes and looked up at his grandfather.
“How ‘bout, you be the Captain of our boat and I’ll be your guide, how’s that?”
“That would be splendid, Jonathan. That would just be perfect.”