I recently read this quote by Glennon Doyle: Imagination is not just the catalyst of art, it’s also the catalyst of compassion. Imagination is the shortest distance between two people, two cultures, two ideologies, two experiences.
Imagination: The ability to see things differently. The ability to create a world in your mind that is different from the one in front of your eyes. The ability to think of several different motivations behind a single action. The ability to recognize that what you see a person doing for a moment is just that–a moment–and that it doesn’t represent who they are or what they do the other 86,399 seconds of that day.
This quote popped back into my head today after an incident at school.
Last week, I blogged about our new school drop-off arrangement. To recap, I have been having trouble getting my autistic son into the school building of late. He’s going through a hard season. He does well enough in school once he is there, but something about walking down the sidewalk and going through the doors has been giving him major anxiety. So, the school has given me permission to use the school bus loading zone when the bus is not present. I pull up as close to the main doors as possible, and his aide and his LST step out to greet him like he’s a celebrity. They let him know how happy they are to see him, and list all the exciting things they are planning for the day, and before he knows it, he is whisked through the double-doors to safety.
I usually leave with a smile and a huge sense of relief.
But today was a little different.
Today, as I was about to pull away, I did a shoulder check and met eyes with another mother. Another mother who was not happy.
She glared at me. She looked my vehicle up and down and threw up her hands in the universal “WTF” gesture. She mouthed words to me. I was grateful she only mouthed them around the children, because there was no mistaking these words. I was getting cussed out.
I know, the teachers know, and the principal knows what I am up to. They know my situation. They know that I have special permission, and in fact, are acting on their suggestion. This woman does not know. I imagine she sees a selfish woman who is blocking the doors. An idiot who cannot read a loading zone sign. Someone who inconvenienced her personally by forcing her to walk around my car.
A situation like this would have really bothered me once upon a time. I would have let it ruin my whole day. I would have gotten all stressed out and desperate to explain, to share my side, to make sure this woman understood all my reasons so she wouldn’t judge me anymore.
Once upon a time, I really really couldn’t handle judgement. Now, I just don’t care.
I’ve learned something in the past few years: if someone judges you, it’s about them, not you. In fact, now I put most of these situations down to a lack of imagination on my judger’s part. They can only see what is in front of their eyes. They cannot use their critical thinking or imagination to think of another explanation for someone’s actions. Which is kind of sad, actually. What a boring life they must lead!
Now, when I encounter a judgmental person like I did today, I try to remember to have compassion on them. I’m not perfect yet, but I try to give them the gift they didn’t give me. Today as I drove home from school, I whispered: “I bless you with the imagination to see things differently. I bless you with the imagination that leads to compassion and changes the world.”
I encourage you to use your imagination today. And to let someone else’s lack of imagination hurt you a little less than it did before. Feel free to use my little blessing, or come up with one of your own. There’s nothing quite like the freedom of being unconcerned when others judge you!
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One thought on “Imagination Changes the World”
Good fir you on not caring about being judged. I no longer care about that either, and I no longer people please. It is freeing. The author you quoted is awesome.
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