Sunday, April 15, 2007

The gift of imagination

"Imagination is more important than knowledge... knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world. To see with one's own eyes, to feel and judge without succumbing to the suggestive power of the fashion of the day, to be able to express what one has seen and felt in a trim sentence or even in a cunningly wrought word... is that not glorious? When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing absolute knowledge."

- Albert Einstein

I like to collect quotes, and this is one that I carry around in my planner to remind me of how much I depend on creativity for a sense of self. Einstein's words have so much substance to reflect on. I don't think he was saying that knowledge is unimportant; but that it simply isn't enough. The ability to use one's mind to conceive of new creations (whether artistic or otherwise) is more meaningful than the retention of facts. Even more, the confidence to discern the relevance and truthfulness of incoming information independent of the whims of those around us—that is a capability of mind that surpasses the mere acquisition of knowledge. I remember the sense of power I felt in college when, for the first time, I became aware that I could listen to my professors and mentally compare what they were telling me with what I had researched on my own, and then be able to formulate and articulate my own opinions, sometimes at odds with what I was being taught—but always with the confidence in my own intellect and ability to interpret what I was learning. I've carried that with me ever since.

No comments: