COACHING THE COACHES
by Jon Rappoport
Copyright © 2011 by Jon Rappoport
If you can do anything for another person in the long run, you can try to induce him to imagine his life in much broader terms than he does now.
You can try to induce him to imagine something beyond the standard categories of what he is supposed to think about.
You can show him that these standard categories are myths and fairy tales and symbols invented by other people and spread by promoters of one kind or another.
Some years ago, I heard from a professor who had many questions about my philosophy of imagination.
I had already sent him a dozen articles I’d written on the subject, and I knew he’d read them, but his questions seemed to indicate he hadn’t.
I realized he was a victim of a malady I’d encountered many times. I call it LTS: Losing the Thread Syndrome.
A person suffering from LTS gets it, and then he doesn’t. He sees something new, and then it drifts away from him. He glimpses possibilities, and then they evaporate.
I did several telephone session with the professor, during which I guided him through imagination techniques and exercises. At first, he found it tough going, but then he broke through.
This was a man who’d spent many years working as an archaeologist in the field, and many more years cataloging artifacts. His forte was dealing with thousands of pieces of data.
After our third session, he said, “So imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“That’s an Einstein quote, “I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And now I finally get it.”
In the ensuing days and weeks, he resuscitated an old manuscript he’d written about a fictional civilization whose artifacts were buried under an ancient earthquake. Writing it had just been “a fun exercise,” as he put it.
But now he saw it in a different light:
By working purely in the realm of imagination to write the book, without any concern for the consequences, he’d actually fleshed out some very important scenarios that could be applied to conducting difficult digs.
In other words, without caring a whit about teaching archaeological field work, he’d made improvements in current systems.
“And,” he said, “I never could have accomplished that unless I imagined and improvised my fictional manuscript. Those good ideas would never have occurred to me.”
He had been cured of LTS. He’d regained the thread.
Many, many years ago, I had a job teaching literature to “difficult kids” in a private school in California. There were four girls in the class who were flunking my course and every other course they were taking.
So out of desperation, and with a glimpse of an idea, I took them out to the playground after school, and I told them we were going to create a country.
I drew rough squares and circles on the concrete, and I said these were the states of the country, and their job was to tell me what was going on in each state, one by one.
I was completely unprepared for what happened.
They began talking excitedly about fashion. What the people wore, what clothes they had in their closets. They described jewelry in cases, furniture in living rooms and on patios. They talked about studios and factories where hats and shoes and dresses were made.
They explained all this in great detail. They were endless fountains of invented information. They were imagining new styles, on the spur of the moment.
Soon, we ran out of states, so I drew more squares and circles on the ground, and they obliged by spontaneously designing more pants and dresses and shoes and hats and cloaks and necklaces and make-up.
Finally, they slowed down, and there were a few states they hadn’t investigated yet.
A girl pointed to a circle and said, “That state is in charge of justice.”
We were silent for a few seconds.
“How does that work?” I said.
And for the next half-hour, the girls and I debated what justice was all about and how it could be achieved. The discussion was very lively and intelligent.
So, for the next month, I worked with them on passages from novels where courtroom dramas were being played out.
I noticed their reading levels magically improved. They were very sharp about the details of these courtroom scenes. They argued like lawyers. They certainly weren’t passive readers.
You could ask, “How does a discussion of fashion on a playground morph into an inquiry into justice?”
There is no strict mechanical answer to that. It happened spontaneously, as many fascinating things do, when you are working purely from imagination. For instance, you realize you’re more intelligent than you thought you were.
And still, this kind of progress is just the first step—because reality, as we train ourselves to see it and believe it, is just a congealing of what we imagine it to be as we operate at one percent of our creative capacity.
A former candidate for a US Congressional seat in California, Jon has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years. He has written articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. The author of The Ownership of All Life, Jon has maintained a consulting practice for the past 15 years. He has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, and creativity to audiences around the world.