In this, our home city, every day over 8 million people of all ages work and learn, face challenges large and small and try to figure out how to overcome them. And remarkably, each of those 8 million plus also does something that human beings have been doing, mysteriously, ever and ever, through the ages … they sleep and.. they dream.
Dreams, those strange and vivid worlds of image and narrative, poetic fragments, mysterious but meaningful stories. One ancient human theory believes they are profound messages sent to us from.. perhaps the gods. Another, that we ourselves are the creators of our dreams. That, in fact, each one of us is a gifted imaginative being without limit. That the creation of these nightly images is one of the most deeply embedded characteristics of human nature.
I think that dreaming in its daytime clothes is creative imagination. And that this kind of daytime imagining doesn’t come so easily and naturally as the night variety – that we have to encourage it, strengthen it, sometimes wait patiently for its arrival. But there is no doubt in my mind that the more we practice creativity, the better we become at it.
We live in a world filled with challenges. And we know, those of us who’ve lived at least long enough to have accumulated a nice string of failures, that challenges don’t respond to one size fit all answers. Invention, persistence, and creativity is required. Required. In fact, when looking a tough challenge in the eye, I think it is the failure of imagination that causes a descent into hopelessness. Hope requires imagination – and meeting challenges requires a sense of confidence in our own powers of invention. No dragon, large or small, gets vanquished without ingenuity.
I know that the adults in this room have already worked hard to ensure that the younger people in our lives have a place to live, good food to eat, the opportunities which education can offer… I think we also have a responsibility to encourage their imagination, their creativity… not only for the pleasure it can bring both us and them, but for the way it can support their future survival. So, while we do what we can in our neighborhoods, our communities, our city, our state, our country and our world to make its challenges less challenging – let’s also work to support the capacity of our younger ones to take on those challenges that will inevitably come their way with hope, with confidence, and with imagination.