I remember the first time I saw it, feeling as if I’d walked right into a fairytale. Surrounded by the modern buildings Frank calls faceless, cold and unfriendly, its surprising and strangely inviting. It's bricks and mortar and imagination interwoven together in pure genius. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny the sheer imagination that has brought it into being. And the interior is every bit as creative, with oval classrooms and a crumpled mirror staircase.
As a child Frank used to build cities and buildings from odd bits and pieces in his grandmother’s hardware shop. Unlike so many people, he has never outgrown his imagination. At 89 he is unlikley to do so now!
But more than that, imagination enables me to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. To feel the despair of the farmer as he looks out over the dustbowl that was once a vibrant crop, to smell the fear of crushing debt, of sheep too weak to stand and insufficient water to shower off the dust at the end of the day. It allows me to care. To find a way to help.
When we walk through dark woods or the barren wilderness, imagination helps us see beyond the now and envisage what lies on the other side, keeping alive a shred of hope.
And yet for many people it has become lost in the forest of reality. We have become so busy making ends meet, striving for success or getting though bulging to-do lists that life has become colourless and monotonous and we come to believe that’s just the way life is.
That’s certainly the way life was for Mrs Basil E Frankweiler. Following her husband’s death, she became a recluse, locked away in a grand house, unwilling to see anyone. That is until an adventurous pair of runaway children find their way into her living room. There’s something about the girl that unlocks a memory of her young self, curious, adventurous and imaginative. In short, it changes her life. She throws open the windows, wipes away the dust of the past and begins to imagine again.
The mixed up files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiller is just a story but it illustrates a great truth. We were born with imagination and we never outlive the need for it. We bury it or ignore it at our peril. Without imagination something in us dies. Imagination connects us to our hearts and to each other.
Everything around us began in someone’s imagination. Once upon a time someone imagined they could fly, Lord Sandwich imagined an easy meal, or was it his servant? Electric light was once nothing more than a figment of the imagination and I love the story of 10 year old Jack Berne who just last week imagined A Fiver for Farmers and along with his classmates has already raised over $60,000 for our farming families.
When we imagine, anything is possible. So add a twist of lemon, a dash of sage or a splash of paint to your day and begin to imagine.