On my drive yesterday through the mountains of southeastern Vermont on my way to visit my oldest daughter in D.C. and greet my youngest daughter just flying in from Kiev, I listened to an NPR interview of Lang Lang, the nearly 30-year-old Chinese pianist/superstar who played in the Olympics opening night extravaganza. I loved several things I heard from him and from others speaking about him and about the growth and development of the artist. But my favorite bit was when he was asked how he had been able to sustain 8 to 10 hours of daily practice throughout this childhood and teen years. He said that he "closed his eyes and imagined scenes and paintings and stories" to go with the music that would help him access the deeper emotions needed to translate the music from the page through him into the air. He said he hadn't then had much life experience so all he had to go on was his imagination. I was so intrigued by this crediting of the imagination; in fact, honoring of it. I hope no one ever tried to tell him something was "just his imagination."
I always had my imagination running away with me (sounds kind of fun huh?) or that I had a big imagination, which was not always a compliment, but I took it as one. What would school have been like without using your imagination to get you out of there? I remember making up stories about the numbers I was adding or subtracting during math class. I even imagined what 6 felt when 2 was taken away (sad) or what 5 and 3 felt when they were added together and transformed from odd to even as an 8 (not too happy, though 8, himself, was rather pleased). But 6 added to 6 made for two quite nice numbers and, well, they all felt nice about it, too. I also liked coloring them whatever color they felt like at the moment. No wonder I'm a writer and one who insists on going deeply into character. I knew even when I was 6 that motivation and action/reaction was everywhere--if I could let my imagination run that far away with me. It's time to play. Come on, let's run.