Just Imagine…

Like many children, my six year old daughter has a wonderful imagination. It can be a joy to hear her play alone or with others and to find the evidence of her detailed creativity. Yes it distracts her from the simplest of tasks, and yes perhaps it is why she isn’t very methodical about reading or maths, but it has provided her with the resilience to change schools and countries, (it’s ok mummy, I am never lonely at playtime, I always have my pretend friends) and to reinterpret and manage disappointing circumstances (actually Mummy – the baby squirrel really wanted a glass mouse for his birthday, not the wooden tortoise I saw last time we came).

A couple of times recently, I have made some comment about the depth of her imagination to family. And I was struck that in both cases their first reaction was to remark on what it might mean for her future career. Perhaps it is because I am not currently in employment, ( I refuse to say not working -I spent days last week entertaining a toddler for 4 hours in minus 2 degrees between car, carpark verge and ski cafe!) but everything in me bridled at the implication that the primary value of her imagination was in how it related to her future employment.

Robert Kennedy famously said of GDP that it “does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of our education or the joy of their play”. (University of Kansas March 18 1968).

If, heaven forbid, she never reaches the age for formal employment, or for whatever reason she never has a job title, or even a salary, I am firmly of the view that the vitality of her six year old imagination is by itself, something of beauty and of immense value. Why? Because imagining is something unique to humanity, By her imaginings, just as other children, she is expressing her God-given creativity to imbue life, agency and personality, to envisage things differently from how they are, to see with her heart and not just her eyes, and to explore seemingly endless possibilities of life in all its fullness.

I hope one day she will make a contribution to the economy. I hope she will earn a salary sufficient to provide for her family. I hope she will have immense job satisfaction. But for now, in her free time, let her just imagine.






Fallen Trees

Thought I would share a poem I wrote last term. Apologies if you have already seen it. It was borne out of a walk around Muir Woods in San Francisco a couple of years ago, and a deep sense of how I felt about people who have such a strong, current influence on my life but who died several years ago. There have also been a number of recent deaths of prominent people, whose legacy is palpaply felt or actively fostered. I think in our culture we dont always have the language to explain their current presence. Friends have been kind enough about the poem to share more widely as some people have found it helpful. Its called Fallen Trees:

Throughout the woodland lie the Fallen Trees
As much a part of life as those that stand.
Cut short in youth or weathered by long years,
Uprooted now, they stretch across the ground.

But see what lives are nurtured by them now,
The creatures seeking nests, the plants that climb.
And even the goodness from each leaf, each bough
Transformed, is found in myriad trees in time.

So those we love, now fallen from our sight
Live on in countless ways beyond their day.
What they held dear, in what they took delight,
Shape choices that we make upon our way.

So honour them, and live as they have shown
And in your time, know what you will pass on.IMG_4092