Imagine Your Story

Imagine Your Story is the title of the summer reading program sponsored by the collaborative library system. Its goal is to improve language and reading skills for our children and to immerse teens and adults into reading for enjoyment and information. I registered for the program, but I also wondered about the rational behind the theme. I searched the internet to no avail. Yet, the theme intrigues me.

We all have a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end even though we may not know what that end is. I would also venture to say, we have another story as well; the story we wish for, hope for, imagine, the story we planned. By the time I graduated from high school, I had my entire life planned. I was going to live on a farm with horses and large sheep dogs. It was going to be huge and fenced in with a white picket fence. I was going to be a successful author living off the novels I produced, and eventually I would have ten children (six boys and four girls, yes my imagination was that vivid.) Needless to say, that is not my reality. Very little of my imagined story has come to past.

Yet, I have to ask myself, would any part of my future have come true if I had not been able to imagine beyond where I was? Would I have accomplished any of my dreams without being able to imagine something different from what I had or what I had seen? Books played a factor in those dreams. Books opened up worlds to me that reached far beyond the ghettos of Cleveland and the farmlands of Tennessee. Books allowed me to “imagine my story” beyond the boundaries of my existence. Reaching for those dreams moved me from one point of emotional and intellectual geography to another.

Books, and those who were instrumental in my receiving the education from and through books, afforded me the opportunity to pursue a future that no one else in my family had achieved. I became the first woman in my family to attend and graduate from college. I became the first women to attain a Master’s degree. I became the first to have a wedding of huge proportions followed by an actual honeymoon. I moved across the country and actually traveled outside of the country. I learned another language (French) and actual had opportunities to use it. I adopted two children, the sons of my heart, and I actually had some poetry published along the way. These and so much more were things of books that became a part of my actual story as a young woman.

So I ask myself now, am I still imagining my story. Have I stopped dreaming? Are all my accomplishments over, or will I continue to “imagine my story?” What about you? Is there still adventure and mystery in your future?

I am not only imagining my story, but I am imagining the story of my children and grandchildren. I am imagining the story of my mother and my friends. It can’t be helped, because they are all a part of my dreams for the future. We need reform, we need national change in policies concerning law enforcement, we need to find a way to end systemic racism. There is no doubt we must become a more humane society valuing all people and all cultures. I imagine this happening in my lifetime as part of my story.

Perhaps, we have too many people who no longer imagine their stories. Perhaps they can not see the plot developing into something good. Perhaps they can’t see themselves becoming the first to experience or accomplish something in their generation for their children and their families. You see, those things I talked about as my life experiences did not only come out of my imagination and my dreams; it came out of my mother’s and my grandparent’s dreams for me. They imagined my story being better than theirs. They imagined my story making a difference for generations to come. They provided a window through books, through education, through faith, and through their own stories to launch me forward into a new and different life.

When we imagine our stories, we must imagine a bright future for everyone, and contribute to it’s existence by every positive means necessary. We can start by reading multi-cultural books to our children and grandchildren. We can promote reading in our young people from every genre. We can continue to “imagine our story” by writing and sharing our stories in our communities and our schools. Yesterday, I spoke to a friend whose parents are in their 90’s and still self-sufficient. Can you imagine the stories they have to tell!

I leave you with these words from a former teacher: “Wake Up! Its time to Dream!”

There’s hope for childhood. Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that are robbing children of a healthy childhood, courageous parents and teachers who know what’s best for children are turning the tide.
I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929)
“His life informed us. His dream sustained us” -from the Citation of the posthumous award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom