Learning Compassion and Imagination From Space Aliens

Meditations in Motion
Mimi’s attempt at a space alien

We sat at the dining room table, my eight-year-old grandson and I. “Let’s draw space aliens, Mimi“, he said. We pulled out our trusty markers and a tablet.

Soon the table was filled with a fleet of aliens. If you look at the results of our drawings side-by-side, you would see one set of aliens that look like they were done by an eight-year-old and one set that looks like they were done by a professional cartoonist.

Mine look like they were done by an eight-year-old.

This boy has a healthy imagination, I think.

Good, I think.

He will be kind.

There is a link, I believe, between having a robust imagination and being compassionate. Those who can imagine the pain and suffering of others, who can picture walking the path of someone else, tend to feel more empathy.

When you can put yourself into someone else’s narrative, to feel the sensations they feel,ย  tenderness and understanding result.

Being able to imagine the cold, hunger, shame, and hopelessness of someone down on their luck inspires gentleness and mercy. Envisioning the desperation, vulnerability, and powerlessness, of those who have been marginalized, generates tolerance.

When a friend tells you about an unexpected impending divorce, when a brother divulges a stage IV cancer diagnosis, when your spouse describes a crisis of faith, you don’t need to have experienced divorce, cancer, or disbelief to feel compassion; you must have the capacity to try to imagine how you would feel in those situations.

I believe my grandson has perception and imagination; he will be kind.

Meditations in Motion

โ€œ You never really understand another person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.โ€ Atticus from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”


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Meditations in Motion







  1. That’s a lovely observation, Laurie: indeed, having empathy and compassion does take a certain level of imagination. Your grandson will, I’m sure, grow up to be a kind and outstanding man (or Mimi might sic her alien on him). By the way, I admire your alien’s style ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “There is a link, I believe, between having a robust imagination and being compassionate.”
    Yes, most definitely, Laurie! Writing emerges from the two of these, and as I’ve experienced even with the villain, Ronny, in my books, there is time for understanding, forgiveness, and compassion. By the way, have you read my novels? I would be more than happy to send you copies of them. You, and your readers, can contact me at http://www.gladetrilogy.wix.com/theglade, to order these Christian-themed, one-of-a-kind reads.

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  3. Oh, how gloriously true! Of all the experts and gurus who hold out “success” as the goal of our parenting, not much is said about developing compassion in our little sweeties. Kindness is undervalued, but will take our kids much farther than mere talent.

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  4. This makes my heart happy. Hope for the next generation. I just stumbled across 24 best quotes from โ€œTo Kill A Mockingbirdโ€. If I can find it again, Iโ€™ll post it. Pearls of wisdom.

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  5. Laurie, I get so excited when I see my granddaughters begin to discover their imagination as they play. My littlest one is just unfolding this gift of imagination and it thrills me. Thank you for the added perspective of how imagination unfolds the ability to have compassion. I so appreciated your thoughts this morning!
    PS – And I love that you are “Mimi” as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Laurie, your posts always pull me right in! Beautiful. And…that alien picture? Youโ€™re a really good artist!! I have spent the last year or so learning how to be a healthier empath. Compassion, for many empaths, can be crippling. Paying attention to the work has been one of the best practices Iโ€™ve ever undertaken; I feel I can better support others nowโ€”whereas, before, I couldnโ€™t companion them without taking ON their pain. (And I donโ€™t know that that helps anyone!) Bleasings on your day…C.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, thank you, Carolyn. You are kind. Empathy can be carried too far, I understand it can cause pain. I sometimes worry about my grandson. He is a sensitive kid. I could imagine you having a good deal of empathy – you have a wonderful imagination and are a great writer!


  7. Well Mimi did a great job with her alien so the grandsons’ drawings must have been even better. Atticus Finch was a smart man, a very quotable character and your quote reminds me of the saying “walk a mile in my shoes.”

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      • I can’t say I’ve ever drawn an alien Laurie and because our weather has not been as snowy as originally predicted, the sketching supplies and how-to books remain in their shrink wrap packaging … Winter is not over yet and today is 4 degrees. I’m going to leave for a walk, and I may be the only one at the Park. That is interesting your grandson is named Atticus … does he have a nickname based on his given name?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! 4 degrees! We haven’t had that kind of cold this winter. Today was in the 30s and that is as cold as it has been in a month. Back to the 50s on Sunday. You may need to wait for the sketching until you retire! My grandson’s nickname is Atti.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes and 5 degrees when I was getting dressed to go out with single digit below-zero wind chills. I was dressed for it, but the problem was the ice and snow on the pathway. They’ve been good about clearing it but they didn’t yesterday since it was minimal snow but we had frozen precip afterward. So very icy and dicey. I got just about a mile walked.

        I had originally intended to do the sketching when retired, but got carried away after that one “session” last Summer. The materials will keep a few more years. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was trying to think if I remembered you mentioning your grandson’s name in a post or comment and could not. Atti. I like that name and what a great character to be named after.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, man! Our town had a “Fire and Ice” festival tonight with ice sculptures, music, food trucks, a laser show, and all kinds of merriment. We went with the grandkids, who had a great time, but Mimi was COLD! It was probably around 25 degrees. we came home and had some hot chocolate to warm up, then a hot bath and into a warm bed!

        Atti is my Colorado grandson.

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      • That sounds like fun Laurie. We have a festival like that in Plymouth, Michigan (not near me unfortunately) with the ice sculptures and fun and this year all the carvers were done with their masterpieces on the Thursday as the festival opened on Friday night and Friday we had balmy weather and they were fighting to preserve the sculptures. They have ice bars and bar stools where people get drinks and pose for selfies and I think that it melted too quickly … that was the weekend we got to 54 degrees. If you’re out in the cold a long time, it gets to you after a while … my fingers were just no good after 90 minutes yesterday and I had to come home – had I waited a day, this morning it is 30 degrees warmer! I think you have shown your grandsons’ pics, but not mentioned their names in the past?

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      • We have had a very mild winter so far. I am hoping to skate right on out of February and into spring. It was chilly Saturday night, though. I was wearing sneakers and my feet got cold!

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      • Yes, the feet and hands, especially the fingers, are the worst as they are the first to freeze up – I know that from taking the bus for three decades and have spent some miserable times waiting on the bus. I understand our Winter may be fading away faster than usual – I hope so and we are not slammed in April!

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  8. I never really thought about the link between imagination and compassion before but youโ€™re right, being able to imagine the struggles others are face helps you to be more empathetic and compassionate. I love that you and your grandson sat down to create aliens together and love your drawing. What a lovely activity to do together. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought of the link as I watched my grandson. He is a sensitive boy and I worry about him sometimes. We love drawing together. Even if I’m not very good at it! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thank you, Cheryl. As a grandma, I have more time to do the fun stuff with my grandchildren than I ever had when my own children were young. I enjoy drawing with the little guy!


  9. Reading your post, it seems that your grandson gets his compassions from his grandmother. Your comparison of imagination and compassion were wonderfully explained.

    Liked by 1 person

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