by Bob Hazlett
Just one word with so much meaning. The dictionary says a figment is “a mere product of mental invention.” The word ‘mere’ has a dismissive connotation that disturbs me. Whether you believe that humanity began in a beautiful garden or crawled out of a swamp, everything we’ve done began as a mental invention in our imagination.
Way back in 1983, when my kids were small, we made our first visit to Disney World Resort. There we met Figment for the first time. Figment, a small purple dragon, occasionally seen sporting a yellow sweater, is the mascot of the “Imagination!” pavilion at the Epcot theme park. The Epcot theme park is a shrine to imagination and is a fitting tribute to Walt Disney, the man who personifies the power of imagination.
Imagination: “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or not previously known or experienced.” Is this not what separates humans from all of God’s other creatures? Or so we think.
Epcot has developed a lot in the thirty-five years since that visit and the “Imagination!” pavilion seems to have diminished in importance. My thoughts scream update! Let’s apply some imagination to the “Imagination!” pavilion.
I’m still in love with human imagination and the purple dragon chosen to represent it. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” said Albert Einstein. As I look around at all the technology that has come about in just the last thirty-five years, I am in awe of what the little purple dragon signifies.
“What is now proved,” commented William Blake, “was once only imagined.” In recent visits to Disney World with my grandchildren, I made sure to include a day at Epcot and a stop at the “Imagination!” pavilion. So much technology is ‘just there’ to them. It’s hard for them to appreciate that what they take for granted came from the imagination of creative people.
On days when my imagination fails me and I stare at a blank page, I need help from Figment. On my last visit to Epcot, I treated myself. Now I have Figment on my desk to give me a boost. I’m going to like this little guy.