Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." -- Albert Einstein

One day when Abe and Ty were boys they asked if they could go on my daily walk with me. We visited about school and recess, and I told them that Albert Einstein had said that imagination was more important than knowledge, and what did they think about that? They debated the issue for two miles.

A dozen years later, Abe wrote in a letter, “Mom, I remember you used to always talk to me about Albert Einstein’s quote that knowledge without imagination is nothing. I would always argue that knowledge was more important but . . . Albert was right.”

I don't know what changed Abe's mind, but I do believe that imagination is what makes knowledge useful. Imagination is what puts color in a rainbow; fact simply states it is light meeting water. Children understand imagination far better than adults.  

I love to watch our grandchildren pretend and imagine whether it is Eliza wearing strips of toilet paper clipped to her hair pretending to have long hair, or Afton stuffing the top of her dress so she can be a mom, or Atlas pretending to be a mechanic on a submarine, or Levin pretending he is an airplane pilot, or Zeph building houses for bugs, or Hazel pretending to put lipstick on.  Their imaginations build them.

Linda Nowicki said, “Children have an endless well of creative energy. It shows up in the whimsical lyrics they sing, their imaginative play, and in their innate ability to make something out of anything. Because they don't fret over what anyone else will think, they are free to live an authentic life that reflects their unique style. But something happens as we grow. We begin to look outward instead of inward for approval. We let magazines tell us what is stylish and how to decorate our homes. We listen to the music of others instead of creating our own. When we look at our children, it's difficult to imagine that creativity ever came that easy to us. But it did.” 

In light of that quote, Albert Einstein’s dress and grooming makes a lot more sense.  He simply never outgrew his imagination.  He believed there were more important things than what others thought. That is wisdom worth practicing.

Today is Albert’s 138th birthday.  Here are other bits of Einstein wisdom:
  • There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
  • I want to know God's thoughts . . . the rest are details.
  • Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.
  • Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.
  • I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves - such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine.
  • Two things inspire me to awe—the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.
  • I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.
  • It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
  • When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

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