Keep your head out of the clouds


In his sermon, Rich touched on the idea that imagination is something you could be proud of if you had a little of it or a lot. Meaning a person who is very imaginative might think of themselves as a creative thoughtful person, whereas someone who is not very imaginative can see themselves as grounded and practical.

Ben TrubeBy Rich’s definition, imagination is the ability to think about a reality different than our present circumstances. For the engineer it’s the ability to think about an algorithm to solve a problem, for a writer it’s the next scene in a book or the next action a character might take, and for a dentist it’s about what kind of lollipops to buy, or how to arrange your office in the most soothing way possible.

The kind of imagination we’re all a bit prone to abusing though, is escapist fantasy. This can either be imagination of our own making, or a story someone else is telling us. Who hasn’t devoted some of their time to thinking about next steps for our beloved characters (including Alana and Marko, Mr. Vaughan should be on notice that if they are broken up by Saga #24 then I will cease to buy your lovely publication).

But I digress.

Actually, wanna talk pop culture for a second?

This last season of the long-running franchise The Simpsons, feels like it’s back to what made the show great. Homer may be a bit of a buffoon, but he’s no Peter Griffin, he loves his family and often his hair-brained schemes come from a place of deep sincerity.

Episode 25.20 - Brick Like Me (10)In a recent episode Homer awakes to find himself in a world made entirely of Legos (maybe a shameless cross promotion for The Lego Movie and the new Simpsons Lego house, but maybe not). This is a world where “everything fits together and nobody gets hurt”, but periodically Homer flashes to visions of his true animated self in the real world, playing with Legos as a way to spend time with Lisa, even going so far as to construct a whole Lego Springfield for an upcoming competition. But then Lisa finds some other friends to spend time with, and suddenly her Dad is alone again, realizing that he may never bond with his daughter in quite the same away again.

simpsons-brick-like-me-3This really upsets Homer, and when he’s knocked out by a falling Katniss Everdeen Lego-lookalike he constructs a fantasy world where Lisa will never outgrow him, where they can be happy and have tea time and live in a world without consequences. By mid-act break Homer realizes this world is a fantasy but chooses not to leave. “Why eat grey goo in the real world, when I can have steak in the Matrix?” But the static nature of life in the fantasy world, eventually forces Homer to conclude that he must live in the real world, even if it means being hurt by his daughter, who has a bit of a change of heart of her own.

See TV can teach us life lessons. Spending our time trying to escape the world isn’t as fulfilling as…

Oh… wait Hulu just auto-played the next episode! I’ve already sat through the ads so I might as well watch it.

Okay, I’m not trying to say TV or interests or hobbies are bad or anything. Obviously I have a pretty deep and abiding love for The Simpsons (especially to be a loyal fan for this many seasons). But I am also in favor of having ideas of my own, challenges to overcome, stories to be composed, etc. If you’re living most of your life with someone else putting their thoughts into your head, eventually you aren’t going to have any thoughts of your own.

Don’t let inertia stop you, or practicality, or exhaustion. Some of my best ideas I’ve had tired (though that nothing good happens after 2am thing might be right). Go out and experience some of God’s creation, and maybe try to add something to it. Whether it’s a story, a painting, or a garden and patio furniture which I’m sitting writing at right now.

And play with Legos. Legos are cool and very creative.


Not Wired To Relax


During last Sunday’s sermon, I made a commitment. The plan was to not work after dinner. Relax. I was sure that I should do that. Why? Well, I just heard from my pastor that it was a responsible thing to do.

However, I am not wired to do relax.

JeffWhitesideAs a child, I watched adults in my life live productively. Mom worked tirelessly so my father was free to work his 80 hour weeks. The start-up family business demanded lots of my father’s time. We all pitched in and did our part.

Childhood stories about busy ants and bees earned rewards of extended lives through bleak times.

The pattern was imprinted from an early age; playing, relaxing, and recreation are occasional activities.

But children today have learned an important lesson from Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. Cookies are a sometimes food. A steady diet of the work is about healthy as substituting vegetables for cookies.

I am wired to be productive. But what that meant did not include regularly scheduled recreation. Logically, I knew that God established an example of creative work that lasted six days and that he rested on the seventh. God expected the Israelites to observe a weekly Sabbath day for rest. Jesus is recorded to have left his work among people from time to time. I’ve advised others to take time off, relax, enjoy the company of others and unwind.

Why? Lots of people are too tightly wound. They get so wrapped up in their productive lives that they don’t uncoil. The tension keeps that person taut. That tension diminishes a person’s productiveness, focus, objectivity, health, and relationships, to name just a few things.

Relaxing that tension is important.

Thus my response to Sunday’s sermon.

So, what did I end up doing? It was something I had not done in years. But those who know me know that it is something. In short, Legos. On Sunday evening I built a house out of Legos.

Had I not contributed to the Smoky Row blog, you wouldn’t know about this.

In the end, I ended up with a less tension and a really neat blue house.