John Lennon’s greatest gift to us all… imagination.

I’ve closed my eyes and let my imagination take me to a million different worlds, a million different lifetimes, adventures beyond the stars and wonders throughout time.

It’s the ability to use my imagination – and, from those moments of thought and contemplation and reflection, build upon my life – that I feel has been God’s greatest gift to Mankind.

There were days when I was a child, and I imagined traveling away from a very hostile and toxic situation.  In those moments, I imagined fantasy stories that would help me escape from a Colonie mobile home park and travel to far-off, exotic places.  Superhero-populated comic books helped my imaginary journeys.  So did television.  Sometimes they combined into great programs like The Incredible Hulk, where Dr. David Banner was the Jean Valjean / Dr. Richard Kimble of my generation, a good man falsely accused and on the run for his life.

There were days when I was in college, feeling about as out of place as a bishop in a game of Stratego.  Somehow I made it through.  I used my imagination to convince myself that I could do just as well as anybody else in this school.  I didn’t have to come from a monied background.  I didn’t have to share my last name with a pharmaceutical company or a longtime legacy.  I had four years to prove myself.  And by the good Lord and good will, I graduated on time, with a diploma.  No one can ever take that away.

Even today, there are days when I feel I’m not good enough.  Or I’m not talented enough.  Or too many people would rather see me fail.  Maybe it’s the contests that I enter every year, contests where I put my heart and my soul and my creativity and my imagination into my work.  Sometimes it’s a collapse, and I can hear the haters and the griefers cheering at my demise.  But on those occasions when it’s a success, it feels like the most wonderful thing in the world.

And if I put my mind to it, if I can create a concept with my cameras, if I can formulate a foundation with my fiction, and it comes out in this blog, this digital diary of determination and dedication, then it works for me.  I’m not perfect.  But I’ll never give up searching for what that perfection means.  Heck, the first time I ever shot with a camera, I wondered what it would be like to have my work hang in a gallery or at a competition.  Well, I’ve achieved the competitions.  Next month comes the gallery show.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit New York City at Christmastime.  And while I was there, I stopped at Central Park.  There it was.  Strawberry Fields.  A quiet place of reflection and contemplation.

I took a picture of the beautiful mosaic.

Imagine: John Lennon Mosaic in Strawberry Fields
Imagine. Nikon F100 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

John Lennon imagined many things.  He imagined leaving the possibility of a life in the Liverpool shipyards, and he took his friends George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr with him.  And after his run with the Beatles ended, he crafted a solo recording career.  Imagine.  Give Peace a Chance.  Power to the People.  Instant Karma.  Starting Over.

He packed a lot of life into four decades.  His imagination became reality.

And here I am, approaching five decades.

I look forward.  And I say to myself…

“Chuck… the best is yet to come.  Don’t ever stop imagining.  If you keep imagining… some day it will come true.”

And I have to take that every day.  Every morning, every evening, every time I think the world is going to close in on me and swallow me up.

Giving up means wasting everything.

You know what?  Call someone else who wishes to give up.

I’m too busy finding out what the next five decades of my life will bring.

And imagining the wonderful possibilities that are just beyond the next sunrise.

Join me, won’t you?