When one is very young one often thinks everything one does is important, because, of course, it is — if only to oneself (although one’s family may have a reasonable tendency to encourage such a belief).
Over the years, I have discovered that some things are much more important than others, and I have now honed the list of critically important things I try to do down to just two that I take very seriously indeed. I seek to do these things rigorously and on a daily basis.
The first is essential. I make absolutely sure that I make at least one other person laugh … every single day.
The second is somewhat more challenging. It is to foster and maintain a healthy imagination by having seven impossible ideas before breakfast.
‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.
‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’
Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
Carroll, L. Through the Looking Glass, Chap. 5
I figure that if I can have seven impossible ideas before breakfast every day of the year, that’s more than 2,500 impossible ideas a year, and it’s one better than the Red Queen did on her best days.
Of course I don’t succeed every day, but impossible ideas can include anything from the invention of a new word (e.g., “immunoceanography”, which is the mapping of biochemical “currents” in the vast ocean of the human immune system) to things that are potentially much more real. After all, if I can dream them up, there may be others that can bring them to life! On occasion, I have even succeeded in doing that myself.