Use your imagination, but don't let it run wild Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Many of us have been told, as far back as we can remember, that we can do anything if we put our mind to it. Left unsaid is the idea that some things are better left in the imagination. In most cases, we learn this through trial and error. When we're young, our mistakes are small. But as we grow, the potential damage from the error of our ways grows.

Back in the early days of the Internet, a woman named Wendy Northcutt created a website for what became known as the Darwin Awards. These were awards given to people who tragically acted upon their worst impulses.

The stories are tragic, but many fall into the category of "there, but for the grace of God, go I." Survivors received "honorable mention." Some doubt the veracity of some of the stories, but they were meant to teach a lesson.

One story was about an alleged incident in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in which an eyewitness reported watching a car in front of him suddenly accelerate. It failed to turn at a curve, crashing into a guardrail. According to the story, the witness stopped to help and asked the driver what had happened. The driver had apparently been listening to a song that gave dance directions, accelerated on "left foot stomp" and didn't hit the brake because the song told him to "freeze."

Does that mean we shouldn't sing in the car? It means that we need to keep our imaginations in check with a healthy dose of reality.

Controlling impulses isn't always easy. Sometimes people are so inspired by the sparks of creativity that action seems imperative. Those are the moments when medical professionals are often necessary.

Those medical professionals have a system of coding every injury they see, often for insurance purposes. They use codes for the mundane, from headaches to arm pain, but also for more exotic injuries.

A person walking when injured by a collision with a roller skater? There's a code for that. Injury caused during an activity involving arts and crafts? There's a specific code for that as well. If these codes exist, it's logical to assume they must have occurred at least once.

These codes are more than humorous, they're inspirational. They're examples of what makes people so amazing. I don't mean just the crazy stuff. People have walked on the moon because someone entertained their imagination. Deadly diseases were eradicated because someone entertained his or her imagination. Right now, people are being equally embarrassed and inspired because they entertained imagination.

The next time you have a big idea, take a big leap of faith. Believe in yourself. Do what others say can't be done, but be safe. I don't want to read that you received a Darwin Award, or that your actions caused doctors to create a code for a new type of injury.

After all, you have to be healthy enough for your next spark of inspiration.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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