The Flowers of Inspiration

Each of us has a reservoir of experience. A collection of memories. An assembly of association after association that guides our feelings, thoughts, behaviors. Even certain sounds, smells, and colors can stimulate a whole array of sensations and experiences affecting our mood or altering our perspective instantly. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud both built legacies upon their observations of human motivation and behavior.

On a day to day basis, if we are even slightly aware of this measurable phenomenon, it is only logical that we include anything in our daily experience that can enhance and support our feeling of well-being.

Many of us grew up at a time when the expression "you are what you eat" was quite common. We are, however, now coming to recognize that, while our bodies have important nutritional needs, our minds - and hearts - also require "feeding." One might become a true specimen of physical health and strength, but with little emotional or psychological development, that person virtually can only become a creature in the food chain.

It seems ironic, with many of the studies that have been conducted and the knowledge that our culture has unearthed in the area of human behavior, that art, music and literature have steadily taken back seats to subjects that appear to be more practical, "bottom line" stuff.

We live in an age when a measurable return-on-investment and an end-of-period result supersede the quality of life during the process of achieving those results. This is not to minimize the importance of achieving excellence, if not survival, in a competitive world. On the contrary, working diligently and excelling during these challenging and opportune times demands greater vision, endurance, and creativity than ever before.

It is precisely for this reason some of the "tools" which brought us to where we are today should not be overlooked. Imagination, innovation, peripheral thinking, "outside the box" problem solving, have been among the basic building blocks of companies that started in garages and later became huge enterprises. The founders of these companies have become known as visionaries. Their creative roots are likely to be found in what they read, the music they listened to and the art they admired, more than in the formulas they memorized or the methods they mastered.

Innovation flies in the face of status quo thinking. One of Apple Computer's ad campaigns had the handle, "Think Different," which incorporated photographs of artists, musicians, philosophers, and other visionaries to make the point. As a culture, we must continue to allow our children access to "food for thought" and the "nutritional needs" of the heart or it is possible their ability to innovate in their own futures may be impaired.

With the continual need to solve tomorrow's problems today we and our kids must be able to dream dreams of possibilities. Without products of the imagination like art, music, literature, which are vehicles of abstract and emotional communication, what touchstones would there be to draw from? What good is a nice car in the garage, a rising stock portfolio, and a large master suite if the kids learn about living from TV and the things they have to look at on the walls are maps and mirrors? Where is the imagination in that?

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