Imagination Over Reality

Dunman High School Public Speaking Competition

Imagination Over Reality :)

Today, I put on my imagination hat (put on top-hat) and float through my castle on a cloud. Here, I’m a top lawyer, solving the toughest cases of the century with my cutting-edge wit; or a dancer, prancing and twirling to beautiful music.

Then wham (clap), I bump into something hard in the cloud and I’m slammed back into reality (whips off my hat). “Huh yes sir, I got it sir, homework page 65 – 75 due… tomorrow”. That was my imagination (point at hat on the floor) and this, this is reality as we know it – with school work, money matters, and all the humdrum chaotic hecticness that is life.

How do we reconcile these two seemingly distant worlds?

Good morning judges, friends and all my friends-to-be. Today I would like to talk about imagination over reality. What does imagination over reality mean? Over implies ‘better than’, implies that we like it more than something else. Case in point, if you had the choice between living the life in your imagination and living your life today, perhaps wouldn’t hesitate before donning the masks of our imagined alter-egos.

Imagination, something quintessentially human, is a powerful force. It has the power to shape reality, both personally and globally – leading many to champion for the spark of imagination over crushing reality. But today, I’d like to push forward a slightly different notion – that imagination grounded in reality may elevate both, and benefit all… More so than if one were to charge forward and leave the other in the dust.

“The imagination is man’s power over nature.” Wallace Stevens once said. Indeed, so many cases jump to mind, where imagination has pushed the limits of reality and produced amazing results. This is especially prominent in science-fiction. The author of Superman (pose) dreamt of a guy strong enough to move bolts of steel. And you know what, in military bases today, a special exoskeleton is being developed to enable mere mortals to do just that. Light ray guns first made their presence known in the comic books – now, there exist lasers, beams of light which cut steel.

But if things are so simple… Why don’t we ALL become thinkers? (thinking pose)

You see, we can’t, and we don’t.

Because if I could represent it pictorially, if this is imagination (sticks out right hand) and this is reality (sticks out left hand), imagination over reality implies this, right? (right arm over left)

What is this space we see here? It is disconnect, and it is this disconnect between imagination and reality, that will ultimately lead to the downfall of this whole notion. No doubt, everyone has heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, the man revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter-like flying machine in the 15th-century, but because his imagination was flying sky-high, while the reality of his time was choking on the dust below, none of his inventions came into fruition in his lifetime.

John L. Mason once said that “The wonder of imagination is this: It has the power to light its own fire.” But all flames need fuel, and the fuel of imagination is reality. Grounded in reality, imagination has the power to drive innovation and is an engine for knowledge. The movement of earth’s tectonic plates was once just an idea, but it’s now helping us predict earthquakes. Einstein’s theory of relativities, the atom, space, Apple, Facebook, Google, you achieving your dream job. All these are the products of a spirited imagination grounded in reality.

Imagination over reality is a beautiful dream. We all want our imaginations to triumph against all odds… and sometimes, yes it does. But it is no Promethean flame, and cannot always do so without the crucial help of reality.

Nevertheless, all the world’s a stage, and mere players like us, in the various seven stages of our lives, could use a little help sometimes – in the form of imagination and a little wide-eyed wonder. So if you could pardon me, I’ll go put on my hat.

Thank you!


My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.




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