“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

~ Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison (1956 – Present) is the first African-American female astronaut to fly into space in 1992 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor who also appeared in a Star Trek episode of The Next Generation series in 1993, one year after Jemison left active duty at NASA. Before her years with NASA, she spent two years with the Peace Corps. Jemison holds nine honorary doctorate degrees, is a dancer and has written several books. Since retiring from NASA, she founded a company which researches the application of technology to daily life.

Without a doubt, Mae Jemison has lived the words quoted above and has established herself as a true pathfinder. In this capacity, she speaks to all of us – but not just her words. No, Dr. Jemison’s life speaks far more eloquently than her words ever could. When I look at her life, and I look at President Barack Obama, I think about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his beautiful dream.

We are all social beings and are raised from birth to adhere to rules, moral codes, and to live up to the expectations of our families. This training is not a bad thing because this ‘socialization’ we receive is the glue that holds a civilized society together. It is necessary to subordinate our wishes at times for the common good. It is also a good thing to serve others. It is not beneficial to anyone if we subjugate our imagination to those people who, in Jemison’s words, have limited imaginations.

Freedom of choice is the issue here. I’m not just talking about the freedom to choose a course of action, but the freedom to let our imaginations soar and to set no limits. We’re all familiar with the expression, “the sky’s the limit,” meaning that we have a lot of room to maneuver. Hmmm, I wonder. From my limited understanding, the sky is a tangible limit, and if I understand Jemison correctly, we need to free our imagination completely so that we can achieve exceptional goals.

This means, in our imagination, we remove limitations of gender, race, age, and the expectations of those around us so that we can explore the impossible. This is no easy task – partially because of the socialization we received as children. In my experience, the greatest set of limits on our imagination is self-imposed. We will never succeed in freeing ourselves from the limited imaginings of others until we can escape the boundaries we have set for ourselves.

When I refuse to try something because I fear failure or being embarrassed in front of others, I have imprisoned myself. Or I don’t go after a dream because I don’t believe I have what it takes. If I do not believe in myself, I will shut down my imagination and live within a prison built by the limited imaginations of myself and others around me.

Bust out of that prison! That sounds pretty simple. It takes a lot of courage and determination to stare down your demons and overcome the skepticism of others. When we fail to do this, we not only impoverish our lives, but we also rob society of the great benefit our achievements would have wrought. We not only owe it to ourselves, but we also owe it to society to become a beacon of light and hope – and push way beyond the sky.

About John Fioravanti

Author, John Fioravanti writes non-fiction as well as fiction in the sci-fi genre. He's a retired secondary school educator and a lifelong learner. He considers himself a work in progress and welcomes the opinions and insights that others may have about his work. He prizes dialogue about meaningful topics, so please leave your thoughts!

25 thoughts on “IS THE SKY THE LIMIT? #RRBC

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    December 14, 2016 at 2:45am

    Imprisoned by our own fears…that’s what we are when we do not allow ourselves to soar in the face of fear. Bravo!

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      John Fioravanti

      December 14, 2016 at 8:07am

      Thanks, Nonnie. If we won’t live freely, we really have no life at all. Thanks for stopping by!

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    December 9, 2016 at 9:41am

    This article of inspiration is simply beautiful. I am an admirer of Mae Jemison. Your statement and let me quote it here, “From my limited understanding, the sky is a tangible limit, and if I understand Jemison correctly, we need to free our imagination completely so that we can achieve exceptional goals.” says it all. Stop looking at the sky and look beyond it.

    Shalom aleichem,

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      John Fioravanti

      December 9, 2016 at 10:24am

      Thank you, Pat, I’m pleased you stopped in to share your insight. I appreciate your kind words. If I am to achieve an exceptional goal, I must become an exceptional person – in that I find the courage to free my imagination and do what’s necessary to reach the goal. Quite the challenge!

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    rick watkajtys

    December 8, 2016 at 7:10am

    Brother John; I must say that you have no imagination issues as your Genesis Saga is out of this world! As for moi……..excuse me while I kiss the sky; with apologies to the late Jimi Hendrix. Also note that your imagination has now produced “Reflections”. How might one procure this newest release? Brother Richard

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    December 8, 2016 at 6:46am

    I love this blog! Our minds are our worst prisons. I am always telling my students that they must learn to love themselves fully and truly so that they will allow themselves to pursue their dreams no matter how impossible they seem.

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      John Fioravanti

      December 8, 2016 at 9:11am

      Thanks, Yvette! I agree, loving yourself and believing in yourself are two very necessary ingredients to unleashing your imagination. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today!

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    December 7, 2016 at 6:08pm

    Indeed John, the limits we set ourselves are self imposed. Just the other day, as I thought of all that I have achieved in life, I started thanking God. This is because, we can soar, but we need wings, and our wings is God. I am awed at all the achievements of Mae Jemison, but behind it all is the hand of God. Thank you for sharing.

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    John W. Howell

    December 7, 2016 at 5:39pm

    Good thoughts, John. We must constantly strive to keep the imagination free.

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    Anne Fioravanti

    December 7, 2016 at 11:33am

    This is very true
    At times when you think there is no way out
    There always is a way
    The sky is the limit
    Live your thoughts John

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    Jan Hawke

    December 7, 2016 at 10:00am

    Life would be a poor thing if it were not for our imaginations. Although chronic depression is a fact of life for me, I have trained myself not to let it limit me by making a deal with myself that every day I will do one positive thing, even if that only means I get out of bed and wash my hair. Often doing that one little thing, even on the darkest of days, leads to wanting to do more positive things and it can end up being a very productive, or even a happy day.
    Imagining something good happening, whether physical, emotional or cerebral is the difference between living a dull life, or a dynamic one – because you chose it.

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      John Fioravanti

      December 7, 2016 at 10:04am

      Absolutely, Jan! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic today.

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    Mae Clair

    December 7, 2016 at 9:07am

    Great motivational post today, John. Thanks for sharing!

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    Gwen Plano

    December 7, 2016 at 8:55am

    This is a great reflection, John! Thank you for the powerful reminder….

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