Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Vision

By Susan L. Lipson

If hindsight could play leapfrog
with current sight, we’d know
that what we saw as hurtful
was a chance for us to grow;
and what we saw as pain
would look like setting up a stage
for joys we’ll soon experience
once we get past our rage.
If hindsight took the foreground,
would we make the same mistakes?
Would we then notice our blessings,
and develop what it takes
to live, not just survive,
to see the lessons in each day,
to feel our will at work with God’s,
and our power as we pray?
If hindsight could play leapfrog
with current sight, we’d know
that faith expressed through ACTIONS
is the leap that helps us grow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Was Einstein Right About Imagination Being More Important than Knowledge?

To analyze Einstein’s assertion that “imagination is more important than knowledge” requires definitions of “knowledge,” “imagination,” and “important.” Knowledge is an attribute gained by study, synthesis, and application of information and materials already in existence. Imagination is an innate ability exercised by creative impulses that bring new information and materials into existence. Knowledge requires information; imagination inspires information. The depth of our knowledge depends upon the strength of our commitment to study, and upon our memory. The depth of our imagination depends upon the strength of our creative impulses and our willingness to act upon our inspirations. Anyone with a functioning brain can develop knowledge, but not anyone can develop an imagination.
Imagination leads to evolution, a forward movement like swimming to a new shore, while knowledge leads to enrichment, which is less like swimming and more like treading water. For example, Einstein, dissatisfied with the body of knowledge available to him in his search for answers to perplexing problems of the universe, instead created entirely new theories within his own mind, countering established information, and leading to an evolution in physics itself. Since his creation of the theory of relativity, scientists have expanded upon the knowledge he created from his imagination, enriching his theories. Consider also the ancient invention of aspirin as a pain reliever and fever reducer, an invention that evolved from a scientist’s imagination (and historians still debate the identity of exactly which scientist invented aspirin). When the use of aspirin eventually revealed a side effect, blood-thinning, modern scientists applied their knowledge of aspirin’s effects to the modern-day prescription of aspirin in smaller doses for maintaining healthy blood flow. Invention obviously precedes new knowledge, but the new knowledge may then enrich our lives even more than someone originally imagined. Thus, while knowledge keeps us afloat and strengthens us, only imagination truly propels us forward.
If we define importance as “the potential for affecting the world,” then yes, imagination is more important than knowledge, as Einstein declared. If, however, we define importance as “value for the sake of personal growth,” then a balance of knowledge and imagination is more important than an abundance of only one. The pursuit of knowledge connects us with our predecessors by honoring their imaginations, whereas the exercise of imagination connects us with future generations who will build upon the knowledge we have established. The weighing of imagination against knowledge is thus affected by…relativity!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ignoring Signs

Signs on the highway foretell upcoming construction, accidents, bumps along our way. They glare in yellow or red, catching our eyes and redirecting us, sometimes in the nick of time for the least aware drivers. Do divine signs--the intangible ones that disguise themselves as coincidences--glare in the same way in our lives, yet without flashing lights or glow-in-the-dark metal? Do we need some special awareness to notice them BEFORE life happens? How do we cultivate the vision we need to perceive such signs and to avoid recognizing them only when it's too late: "Ah, I should have see that coming! All the signs were there!" Furthermore, how do we know that the signs ARE signs, and not just our imaginations colored by hopes or fears?

Lately, I've been wondering whether I've been overlooking signs regarding my writing career. My printed words have garnered surprise praise from unsought sources, while I continue to mail out children's book manuscripts to agents who reject them for lack of their own time or enthusiasm; or agents (TWO) who actually LOSE my submissions, after months in which I imagined them reading and sharing my words with the members of their office, and after ignoring my email inquiries about the status of my submission finally write sheepish replies to admit that they lost my work and apologize--without offering to make it up to me by reading my work as a new, top-priority submission. Did you hear the long sigh that punctuated that run-on sentence? Ah...

Anyway, the unsolicited praise I HAVE received lately concerns writing that I am NOT currently submitting for representation or publication: scripts, songs, and essays. Maybe this weird recurrence of compliments is a sign that I should refocus my attention? Maybe the compliments are gifts of guidance from Beyond, to help me redirect my efforts? Let me explain the possible "signs" I have lately received....

In the last two weeks, my scriptwriting skills have been praised by my daughter's acting coaches and casting directors who, while auditioning her with a script that I wrote for her (an adaptation of one of my unappreciated novels-in-submission!), asked her where she got this "amazing script" and even approached me after the audition to commend my writing skills. My songwriting skills have brought me requests to either sing or grant permission to another singer to sing my original liturgical music in synagogue. And my essay-writing skills have brought me surprising emails from parents of prospective students and other bloggers who have invited me to contribute to THEIR blogs. What does this mean? Should I switch to writing screenplays and songs and essays? Am I overlooking potential success outside of children's book publishing? Or are these peripheral mini-successes, meant to spur me onward and not lost my drive for my goal of publishing another novel for kids?

I even wrote myself a song about this very topic, months ago, but never heeded the advice that sang itself into my ear until I wrote down the lyrics and sang them into my computer's recording device. "Am I manufacturing signs, signs to guide me, since I am lost?... Am I overlooking connections, connections who'll get me further along? Maybe it's a matter of timing, timing that's part of some divine song?"

Signs, or willful imaginings? How do we know? How do we learn to trust ourselves? On the other hand, how do we keep from "poo-pooing" signs that scare us--about our health or the health of others, for example? How I wish the signs would appear in neon lights instead of ghostly flashes of insight! How I wish the "chills of confirmation" that many of us imagine/perceive (?) would instead become physical shaking by Divine "hands"!

I hereby vow to trust myself to see more clearly. But I also plead with the Giver of Signs to be a little more obvious, pretty please? Maybe this blog post is a sign?