Means & Ends

QuoteI’m a sucker for quotes. Good Earth teabags. Baci chocolates. And, circa 2006 Starbucks coffee cups. Pictured left was one such quote photographed, held in my hand as I sipped from its very brim in Manhattan’s Battery Park, New York City.

A person’s pursuit of goodness leads to greatness, but the pursuit of greatness leads to ruin. Pursue goodness and you will achieve great things.” ~ John E. Kramer, Vice President for Communications – Institute for Justice

IMG_9837I got my teeth cleaned today. My dental hygienist, Dana (pictured right), is from the same town I’m from in California–Santa Cruz. I remembered that, and we struck up conversation where we last left off six months ago. Dana lit up when I talked about my soon-to-be-finished master’s degree. She said that she wanted to start a graduate program of her own but timing and finances had her tripped up a bit. When I asked about it, her face noticeably got brighter. She knew exactly where she would get her Master’s in Dental Hygiene. It was all online, doable and exciting. No, it wouldn’t give her a salary bump or open any large doors for her career. It was all about research, and just sounded fun. Dana said: “I just want to learn more! I love learning, and the idea of it is so wonderful.”

I’ve been thinking a lot this month about means and ends. Journey and goals. Process and product.

Things like adulthood, and capitalism!, has all of us a bit mixed up it seems. The impulse to look for ends, goals and product clouds our intuition. Intuitively, we feel drawn to means, journey and process. And we should be pulled towards them! Somehow we’re taught that in adulthood, rationalism demands that we know where we’re going before we head in any direction.

tomorrowlandpostermain1429830351629Last week, Greg and I watched “Tomorrowland” (poster left, source credit).  No, it didn’t get great reviews–though George Clooney chose to make it and he has great taste. (Insert winking emoji here.) It was my second time seeing it, and though I acknowledge the cheese, it fills me with a solid dose of inspiration. The crux is that problem-solvers, creative thinkers and dreamers can make the world better.

In one frame of the film, positioned winsomely in the background are some words from the great Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I looked up the quote just now to share here, and saw that there’s a B part to it as well: “…For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

When Dana told me today about her desire for learning, I realized she is drawn to imagination. She is eager to expand her view of the world, and open up to what is and what could be.

An ache for journey and discovery is tucked inside each of us.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 1.22.48 AMEarlier this week, I sat across a round table from my current boss–Dr. Mark Markuly (pictured right, credit). We have a tendency to talk about a great many things other than marketing communications in our weekly check-in. This day was not an exception. He had been talking about jazz’s impact on creative thinking and expressions worldwide, and I mentioned “Tomorrowland” and the Einstein quote. He looked at me with a smile as wide as a steering wheel. I asked why he was smiling so wide. He laughed. He said something like: “You’re not as jaded or faded as I am. You still believe the world has magic and possibility in it. If I’m honest, I still think that too.”

Where is your imagination pulling you today? What journey do you feel called to? Try and turn off the voices of seeming rationality that stamp out the joy of those possibilities. Turn down the volume of the messages that those opportunities don’t result in much or anything at all. Where do you feel invited to grow, discover and dream? Take the risk of saying yes to that next step. You will find that imagination is more important than knowledge.

The Quaker mystic and author, Parker Palmer, says (I paraphrase): “Stop telling your life what you want it to do for you. Instead, listen to your life. Listen to what it is telling you.”

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