Imagination

“Phantasie ist wichtiger als Wissen.”
(“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
)
Albert Einstein

Ah, Albert. You’re right up there with Martha Graham as my favorite muse. And surprisingly so, because I thought you were a scientist…

Yes, I know that the great scientists and mathematicians are artists. I can’t say I understand how, for the place where numbers and elements become ideas is not a place I can go. But I believe it  exists. In the same way that beginning musicians wrestling with notes and rhythms can’t imagine how ethereal and integrated music can be at the highest level; we who are stuck at beginning algebra (at best:)) can’t soar with the scientific eagles.

But no matter. Notice that Einstein didn’t say that knowledge isn’t critical. (Really? You know who I’m talking to. Go practice.) He simply acknowledged that it didn’t trump the mind’s ability to soar.

“You never know what is enough
unless you know what is more than enough.”

William Blake
(Corollary: Oscar Wilde’s “Nothing succeeds like excess.”)

“More than enough” requires imagination. I used to invoke this axiom when I was coaching singers who would take maddening baby steps toward a bold goal. Your imagination will help you take the leap to the edge if you give it rein. In fact, if you practice this approach in collaboration with a trusted teacher or mentor, you will find the imagination and courage to go where Blake goes; to find out what is “more than enough.” Crossing that line is the only sure way of knowing where it is.  And knowing where it is will allow you to perform on that exciting, exhilarating edge.

“Anything you can imagine clearly, you can play.
That’s the great secret.

Frank Conroy (Body and Soul)

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