On Imagination

How did Albert Einstein, not only the greatest ‘mind’ to come out of the 20th century but also one of our greatest physicists, how did he see the human imagination? Imagination is more important than knowledge because it encircles the globe. More than that, imagination is everything—it is a preview of life’s coming attractions. Late in his life when asked about his own thought process he said he’d like to know what God thinks in one 24 hour period. Any mind that displays that much creative thinking and/or imaginative thought is one that you should do your best to emulate.

If its true that thought is always parent to any action, then where, pray tell, does the thought come from? Your brain? The thoughts that are based in logic, for the most part, will find their seat in your brain. But, the imaginative thought probably bubbles up from the stew-pot that we call the subconscious. It has no known location in our head, our brain or even our body. Some say of course it’s the brain, where else would it come from, it’s a thought? Not so fast. Some say it comes from the heart. Some used to say the stomach or even the spleen. The fact is no one knows. Even those versed in the ‘brain sciences’ would tell you that they’re only guessing. But, the left-brained thinkers would tell you that an imagination never built a bridge. Conversely, the plans for ‘said bridge’ percolated in the designer’s imagination even before it was put to paper. Sadly, for the most part, those with any kind of imagination, especially our kids, are being shunned today. The right-brained have had to take a back seat to those versed in ‘business school acumen.’ Hey kids, can you spell BORING? Sooner or later, somebody has to stand up and say there has to be a better way. And it’s the children who can help provide the answer.

Anyone who has read more than a couple of columns about ‘Life in America’ knows that I will usually go into great depth about acting like a child again. Remember when you were that child, how you could live an entire lifetime in a single day? Do you remember what it was like when all things were possible, way before you knew anything about playing the odds? How did we achieve those heights if not for our imagination? That, my friends, is as simple as it can possibly get- to be like that child again. So simple.

James Allen, a late 19th century writer puts in his two-cents in these words: cherish your visions, cherish your ideals, cherish the music that stirs in your heart; the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions… if you shall remain true to these, your world will at last be built. In other words, imagine the life that you wish and start moving in the direction of your imaginative thoughts. This is what Mr. Einstein was talking about when he said that imagination ‘encircled the globe’. Wherever you have people, you have a collective imagination. And there are no boundaries for such a people on this earth.

Look around you today. You don’t even have to look at the entire world, let’s just concentrate on these United States. Look at the markets. Look at the banking institutions. Look at our political structure. All brought to you on a collective basis by the left-brained thinkers, the ones without the imagination. If you could turn back the clock to when these guys were kids, someone should have told them to put their feet up on the desk and do a little more day-dreaming.

At least, that’s the way that I see it. MLProko [2011]  www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Wisdom

Funny how things work out, isn’t it? In some instances, the one’s who bring the most to the table are the least successful but the one’s who fare the best are those who had someone explain the rules of a particular situation to them. It has nothing to do with brains (the wisest are quite often the least educated). It has nothing to do with ‘smarts’ (the smartest are more often than not those with the most common sense). For the most part, wisdom comes from a personal view of their world and how they fit into that which they see; less a product of intellect and more of the breadth of their vision.

My grandfather was fond of telling us to never miss a good chance to shut up. No, not because we knew how to get the best of him (we all did) or because of a diminished intellect but mostly he wanted all of us to understand everything there was to know about a given situation, to play a mental chess-game with all that was in front of us, to maybe see that which could not be seen knowing full well that if you’re running off at the mouth chances are that your brain’s not working at its’ best. And, he was smart enough to know that all you really needed in your life was usually within arm’s reach all along: When you get to the end of your road, when you’re out of time or out of money, when you’re done searching whatever it was that you were looking for, you’re gonna find out that it was inside of you all along. But, that’s usually the last place that we look. I never forgot that line and it has served me well over the years. I’ve also managed to pass that line along to others. Does that make me wise? Who knows, but I know that it’s helped a lot of people so there is some gratis there.

We were also privy to a litany of stories about sowing seeds and magic wands. Gramps was convinced that all people were born with a magic wand inside of them that had the ability to change whatever needed changing. Simplistic? Of course. But think about that for a second—you learn from a very early age that you have the ability to change whatever needs changing just by using your mind and your imagination. There is real power in that. How about sowing seeds? People talk a great deal about sowing seeds but few will go into talks about the harvest, how just one seed will provide a bounty at harvest-time. Plant good seeds, you get a good harvest. You start planting bad negative seeds, well, you’ll end up with a bounty of negativity you’ve never seen the likes of. Very simple lessons taught in a very simple way.

These were very simple people who had a very simple way of looking at life—treat people the way that you yourself would like to be treated. My grandma used to tell us that people will forget everything about you, how you look and what you do but they’ll never forget the way you make them feel. Make ‘em feel important. Make ‘em feel special. That they won’t forget. They taught us how to swim, how to behave like ladies and gentlemen, how to look at life but, most importantly, how to keep your sense of humor when life comes at you. They, too, had made their fair share of mistakes but they had a goal and they just kept on striving to that end.

Simple folks. Simple lessons. Simple wisdom. Simpler times. God, I miss that. And them.

At least, that’s the way I remember it. Take care. MLProko (2011)  www.mikeproko.com

[excerpts from ‘Some things my grandparents taught me’ by Mike Proko ©1994]

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Trust and Giving Your Word

At 18 or 19 years of age, reading ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli was required for one of my classes; one of his favorite tenets in the 500 year old book was that ‘you only keep your word when it is to your advantage.’ Now, I really didn’t think that many people found that author readable. Apparently, that was my mistake. His favorite piece of advice has seemed to have crept into our collective consciousness. More and more today, I feel like a dinosaur, like I have out-lived my time when even something as basic as giving your word to another means nothing—your trust to another and of another means nothing.

  • The government lies. Politicians don’t say they lie. They say that they just supply the press and the public with ‘misinformation’.
  • Big Business lies. Enough said.
  • The banks lie. How’s this? You perpetrate a fraud on the American people and run your business into the ground, you demand that the Fed’s bail you out, they do with money from Mr. & Mrs. America and then you give yourself a jillion dollar bonus. How does that work? [The Europeans would have hung them.]
  • It’s gotten to the point that even your church is lying to you. I’m not even going to get into that one.

A friend of mine is a referee for local high school golf matches; at least several times a month he finds one of the athletes cheating. The kid’s shrug it off saying everyone does it; the parent’s don’t understand what the fuss is, demanding that no action be taken against their child. Is this an acceptable way to raise your children? Winning is more important than your word? How can we accept this course of action? And how did everything get so screwed up?

When we were kids playing our games, if we caught someone cheating, we took care of it ourselves. If they were going to play in any contest with us, it had to be on the up-and-up. How they explained their bloody nose or the bumps on the top of their heads to their mother was to their own discretion but those were the rules. No exceptions.

There were those would did play foot-loose with the rules and they were marked as they got older. Their word meant nothing. They were not to be trusted. And because they had a tendency to get by on the ‘sneak’, eventually their talents went by the wayside. They became husks of what they once were or what they could have been. I think most went on to work for large firms. These were also the guys who got involved in politics at a very early age, again where your word means nothing. ‘The end will always justify the means’ is the credo that seems to work in all walks of life, some better than others, like those mentioned above. Machiavelli would have been proud to know you guys, even though I know some very decent people in the previously mentioned professions.

The good news is that these people are not the face of America. There is a common decency that runs through most of our country where they shake your hand and mean it. That’s as simple as it gets. My grandma taught us that if you tell the truth then you don’t need a good memory. Remember when your handshake was as good as any contract? And then, the lawyers got involved. No, the nice thing about a pendulum is that it eventually swings the other way. That is the only thing left to keep all the good guys from going insane. The Indians used to say a prayer to the Great Spirit for wisdom ‘so that I may look at You with straight eyes and clean hands’. That works for me.

At least, that’s the way I see it. Take it slow. MLProko ©2011    www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Joe and Ann


As he entered the front door, there was a bounce to his step, a jaunty kind of movement that certainly masked his 83 years. This one should have been dead years ago but he had indeed weathered the tests of time, much more so than his wife Ann. Through their 62 years together, she had always been the one who held everyone and everything together. All of the responsibilities always seemed to fall on her shoulders. The only thing Joe could do right was drink and pass out, which he did with a degree of regularity. And now, the roles were reversed; it would be up to him to take care of her. But, you know what they say about old dogs? Still, all in all, she was the love of his life even if she had no real recollection of him for the last seven years. He had been here everyday since as part of a silent benediction, just sitting in her room looking after her for most of the day.

As he approaches Ann’s room, he notices a new nurse, a pretty middle-aged black woman, sitting off by herself in the nurses’ station. She nods and gives Joe a warm smile as he ducks into the room. Everything is different. The room has been changed. The nurse slides in behind him. ‘Mr. Joe, we changed the room around a little. I was looking at Miss Ann’s chart this morning and I saw how much she loved spendin’ time in her garden when she was younger so we put her bed by the window so’s she could see outside.’ He nodded his approval. But the light coming through the glass had changed Ann’s appearance. ‘I also noticed that Miss Ann had a beauty shop most o’ her life so I did up her hair up this mornin’. I figured that she’d like that, Mr. Joe.’ He looked at his wife with pride knowing how much she used to fuss about her looks. The nurse backed away a little and said: ‘I’ll leave you two alone now, sir. I’ll be out in the hall.’ Joe nodded again, whispered ‘thank you.’ There were tears in his eyes as the nurse left the room.

Joe stands by the side of her bed, leans over and gives his love a kiss on the forehead. It seemed like forever since she was able to recognize him. But the eyes that had lost their light seemed to have found it that day. The twisted, anguished torment on her face has been replaced with a peaceful angelic look. Her gaze turns from the window to her husband. She looks at him and smiles: ‘Hi, Joe, I’ve been waiting for you.’ He is stunned and turns to get the nurse who is standing in the shadows of the doorway. Ann whispers: ‘No, Joe, don’t. Don’t go. Stay with me please.’ He turns back to her wiping some tears from his eyes and holds her hand as he kisses her softly. She nods as she says ‘thank you’. She smiles, closes her eyes, lets out a small sigh and then, she was gone.

There are some things that can never be explained like when love starts and where or when it might end but, for reasons unknown, Ann was lucid enough to say good-bye to her husband in that room that day. And yet, try as he might, Joe was never able to find that nurse, to thank her for the kindness that she had shown Ann on that day. They had never employed a black nurse at that nursing home back then.

MLProko[excerpts from ‘Some things that my grandparents taught me’ by Mike Proko ©1994]   www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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