One of my favorite quotes is one by Albert Einstein:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Einstein also said that if he were asked to solve one of the world’s most challenging problems and he had just one hour in which to do it, he would spend the first fifty five minutes arriving at the right question.

And so writing is curiosity manifested on the page. When I write, I ponder the world and then seek to learn why leaves change color in the fall, or why clouds form a certain pattern, or why a giant rock outcrop has layers of varying colors, or why poverty exists. These ponderings lead to explorations into learning, perhaps to a course in Northwest geology, or biology, or archeology, or international development. The list is endless.

Without imagination, there would be no curiosity, no seeking questions that might lead to important discoveries that might change the world. Imagine a world with no war, no poverty, and no homelessness. Through curiosity, questions form such as how did they do this or how might this connection help us lead to gathering and then analyzing information. Without curiosity, we remain happy with the status quo. But the earth and everything in it is constantly changing. Perhaps that is why I love this time of year, and the crisp October air, the frost that forms on windshield and grassy fields. It reminds me of the ephemeral, of change, of the quest for answers; it leads to a way of noticing, to discovery.

Writing is a way of noticing, of paying attention, a way of being in the moment. When I write, time slows down as I endeavor to engage all of my senses. When I notice the new crimson colors in the leaves, or the soft yellow of the Tamarack tree in early October, or a cleared open field where once were apple trees, or a man sitting alone near the bridge in East Wenatchee, I delve into more questions. Then I see there are connections, relatedness.

Writing is a thinking methodology, like design thinking, or mind mapping or inventiveness. It leads to questions such as, “how did Leonardo da Vinci think?” Or “how did Thomas Edison keep on going after so many failures that finally led to his discovery of what would lead to the light bulb?” Or “how do great companies like IDEO arrive at amazing inventions”, or “how does iDE solve problems all over the world?”

Everything is changing. Everything is ephemeral. Everything is connected. When we ask questions, we slow to notice. Perhaps if I had noticed this…. It’s what people like Aldo Leopold did and what all great thinkers do. What Rachel Carson did when she wrote Silent Spring or Annie Dillard did in Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek.

Writing is a never-ending journey into a vast and wondrous universe. It’s a way of wonder, a way of learning, a way of exploration. For me, writing is the conduit to many other valuable skills. It’s hard work. It requires attention to detail as well as the ability to work with others.  Since writing is about thinking and researching and problem solving, I have used my writing as a way to learn. When I write, I explore to seek answers to my “why” questions. And, as I write, the process helps me to think and to organize and to communicate what matters most.

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