It only takes a moment to close your eyes, breath in deeply and drift away into the Imaginarium where creativity is our currency and wonder drives the machinery. And Oh, the sights one sees.....
Several students found our freeway onramp into the Imaginarium this week at the Space Education Center. We filled their empty tanks with the power of dreams and the adventure of make believe.
I'd like to share one story with you about a young man that visited the Center on Tuesday.
Jack stepped up and onto the Voyager's Bridge with wide eyes and open mouth - a typical reaction to the simulator when seen for the first time. I looked at him standing there with his red shirt and Mohawk hair cut thinking he might be a bit of a handful. I made a metal note to keep an eye on him.
"I like your hair cut," I commented. "Very alien."
"Thank you," he replied courteously. I was surprised. He spoke kindly and his thank you was sincere, not deserving of my not so sincere compliment. I led him to his station at the Long Range Station.
He needed extra help during training. I found out later he read at a 2nd grade level, three years behind his age. The difficulty of running his station didn't stop him from giving it his very best. I was impressed.
I told Intolerance that day. The mission was uneventful. This fifth grade class made all the decisions one would expect. They reacted predictably to every dilemma, until I reached the end of the story.Setting
The Voyager was hiding in the nebula cloud. Her systems were down, very few things were working. The ship had taken a beating from the Pennou's plasma weapon. As the Pennou, I had just destroyed the Montgomery and called to make my final demand from the Voyager's Ambassador.
"Ambassador, the Montgomery attacked me first. I did not come here to fight. I only want my property back. Come out of the nebula and give me back my slave."
"No," the Ambassador replied.
"Ambassador the wormhole is about to close. If it closes I'll be trapped in your universe forever. Come out of the cloud or I will come in!"
Then, breaking the silence of the bridge, came the voice of the boy with the Mohawk hair cut.
"Ambassador, may I talk to the Pennou," he asked. She gave permission. "Pennou, my name is Jack. I want to talk to you."
"Who are you," I asked. I was curious where this was going and sat up in my chair in the Control Room.
"I'm Long Range Officer." He stood with his back perfectly straight and chest out. He was proud of his ship and his job.
"Speak," I said.
"I'll take the Pennae's place so you can be happy and he can be free."
His statement was completely sincere. In his imagination he really was on a ship in deep space. He was the Long Range Officer. He saw his ship was in danger. He saw his Ambassador in distress. He saw the anguish in the face of the escaped Pennae slave.
"Interesting," I responded in my deep and threatening Pennou's voice. "Can you read and write?" I inquired. In the background I saw the boy's teacher nodding her head in the negative. The bridge supervisor smiled.
"Yes, I can read and write," he answered. "Will you take me?"
"I wanted the Ambassador and the slave. That's two people. You are only one person."
"OK, Pennou. I'll go for both of them."
"Both of them. That's hardly fair for me. I want two!"
"Pennou, if you take me I promised to work twice as hard. I'm a hard worker and I can do it."
The control room was silent in surprise. Never before in the fifteen years we've told Intolerance had something like this happened. Here was a boy completely immersed in this universe, willing and ready to give himself up for his shipmate and a total stranger. We were running out of time and the other class was lined up waiting to come in for the 11:45 A.M. I had to move the story along.
"I accept your offer. You will come to my ship and do the work for two," I announced.
"Thank you Pennou," he replied and sat down. I took my walkie talkie and spoke secretly to the captain. "Captain, are you seriously going to let one of your crew members give himself up as a slave while you still have other options?" The captain thought for a moment.
"No one is going to your ship. I won't let them," the captian spoke with authority. Her statement pulled us back into the traditional ending of Intolerance.
At mission's end I complimented the young Long Range Officer for his bravery and self sacrifice. His class applauded. His teacher was impressed. She had learned something about this boy's character, something she hadn't realized before. This boy might struggle with reading and writing, but his character was far the norm for his age.
This is the power of story in our simulators. This is the reason I created the Space Center.
It was an emotional pay day for me.
Do you remember the magic when you were younger and your visits to the Imaginarium were frequent? Your days fill with the trappings of modern society as you age. There is homework and chores and never ending social maintenance that eats up hours of the day. Then, when you find a moment of peace and quiet, you realize something is missing......
Tap your heals three times and come back to Wonderland. Turn away from your audience and step off the Stage of the Here and Now. Come through the curtain and find your own yellow brick road. Your Onramp to the Imaginarium.
The Pillsbury's at 243 Wonderlake Road, Wonderland find enjoyment in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. These are the kind of people you find for neighbors in the Imaginarium.
A zipper of crayons
This year's seniors at Wonderland High went out in style.
A poster seen at the 4th Street Subway Station near the Imaginarium. The struggle continues in the never ending battle against the forces of darkness and ignorance.
The bakery shop on the first floor of the Imaginarium offers a unique assortment of tasty delights - all blessed with the staff's own blend of creativity.
And what was seen at Wonderland Park? A Wookie playing catch.
Remember, many of the world's greatest thinkers and imagineers suffered greatly in the past just because they looked at the world differently. We must learn to identify them today and cherish the gifts God has given them.
If fonts were dogs.......
In the Imaginarium food storage takes on a different meaning. Imagine attending a church full of people with this unique take on life? Ahhhhhh, refreshing indeed.....
Take a moment to enjoy the simplest things in life.
Tssssssst........ and life becomes more beautiful.
(Diet Dew for me please, with one squirt of cherry)
It's a perfectly good question.
Have a Great Day and I hope to see all of you soon at the Space Center - your onramp onto the Imaginarium's Expressway. It's time to return. Gather your friends and come to camp or book a private mission. Remember, all new 5 hour missions start on June 1st in all five simulators.