By Henry Sherin
ANOTHER faculty that should be cultivated is the imagination. Some people think the imagination should not receive much attention because it sometimes runs wild into delusions. They scoff at the man who builds castles in the air which never can be put upon stone foundations on the earth. But it is a proved fact that a man cannot be great who has not a cultivated imagination.
No painter, architect, designer, builder, or business man can be a success who has not a good imagination that enables him to see the picture, design, or plan in his mind before it is placed on paper or appears a reality.
It is impossible for a man to be a good mechanic without the operation of the imagination which sees the intricate machine completed and running before he lifts a tool or turns a lathe.
He must make a mental picture of his work before he does it. If not, he will fail.
The architect erects his building in his imagination before he puts his plan on paper or has a tool lifted for construction. The successful story writer beholds the subject which he is about to describe, live, and act before he takes a pen or writes a line. The landscape gardener sees his whole layout before a shovel of earth is moved or a flower is planted. If you would cultivate your imagination, draw a picture in your mind, put it upon paper, describe it minutely, whether forest, river, plain, or any object or scene. Write it over and over again, and you will be surprised what a mental painter you will become.
The great engineer saw the Panama Canal in his imagination before a rock was moved or a spade was used. The architect saw the skyscraper lift its lofty head into the clouds before he made a plan or drew a specification. All the great leaders of civilization were men of strong imagination, and their faith in the castles they built in their minds constructed cities and real palaces on sea and on land. They built the mighty ships, bridged the rivers, tunneled the mountains, spoke around the earth, and fathered all the great enterprises of our civilization.
The most useful in this world are those who can look into the future and see the things that are to be which shall emancipate the man, elevate the woman, and lift humanity into light, happiness, and contentment.
The extremely conservative man would repress all imagination and call its pictures impracticable. Thus he has disparaged the advance propositions of all the great engineers and inventors of the past century.
Were it not for the imagination, we would not have the telephone, electric light, wireless telegraphy, and the hundreds of other modern conveniences that have made living a pleasure and comfort in civilized lands. Through the operation of the imagination, many a poor man has lifted himself out of the dingy shop to head a gigantic enterprise with millions of capital.
Think of the great men of the past fifty years in this beautiful land of ours that have risen from insignificant positions and locations amid the jeers and scoffs of pessimistic companions, to surprise the world with their startling inventions which have been blessings to mankind. All the great inventions are the results of the seed pictures in the mind. The imagination is the father of all architecture and art, great public works, and great nations. How much of our own beautiful country is the result of the vivid dreams of Lincoln, Washington, and other leading statesmen, whose minds saw this mighty nation rising on this continent, attracting the world, standing above the nations of the earth financially, industriously, morally, and leading all mankind to that which is great, lovely, and good!
The most delightful and cheering faculty we have is the imagination. It lifts us out of the common drudgery of life and puts us in an Eden of beauty, where the air is laden with the fragrance of the flowers, and where fruit may be picked from a tree of life which gives us new feelings, fresh desires, and bright hopes for the great future. How precious is this faculty that elevates us above the trials, troubles, and perplexing environments of to-day into the bright, cheerful, healthy enrichments of tomorrow!
Cultivate your imagination; encourage it; try to make its pictures living ones, lasting ones; for as your mental pictures are, so will your future be. You will never rise above them. Your hopes and anticipations will never reach beyond them, and your life will never be more beautiful than the mental pictures you make of it. Thus you should aspire high, anticipate great things, and then aim for them. For it is this mental, creative power that will ultimately lift man to his highest level and greatest achievement.
Our mental operations create our conditions, and as the artist paints a picture of life, love, and beauty, which raises the beholder into the spirit of the magnificent scene, so may you by your mental attitude raise yourself into conditions of health, love, joy, peace, and prosperity never before enjoyed.