Everything that humanly exists, first came into being through imagination. An idea is a first light, a seed, and the gestation of it through to fruition is shaped by all manner of creative processes: by consideration, reflection, investigation, evaluation, and more imagination layered through.
Imagination is a source and resource which enables the understanding of disparate systems to come together and play in the mind, and to find their mutual facets of harmony and discord. It is the active agent for exploration and experimentation to take place in the manifest world. Imagination leads to creativity which encourages human potential; potent to integrate with every other aspect of life.
Imagination integrates facts and experiences into sense-making, shapes sense into a more perspicacious force. It underlies the purposeful narratives in all of our lives: dreams, symbols, myths and imagery.
Imagination gave us clues for every survival, and for all the ways in which we thrive. Human beings and societies need, therefore, to be built on values that uphold imagination as a core faculty for our survival. Our species depends on it.
We live in a complex world shaped by the sophisticated ideas and constructs of others, and it is already proven that the neglected imagination leads to manifest dysfunction: for a start, all those bright ideas with an unimagined down-side have led to disasters as well as to triumphs, and unaddressed, to our current global crises.
And for the individual: without making time for exercising imagination, we become passive within the world and thereby put ourselves (and collectively, our species) at risk. Like muscles that do not exercise, it is/we are less able to respond when called upon – as if the unimagined life has little voice through the cacophony of worlds that have been imposed upon it.
It is as crucial to engage and express through imagination as it is to exercise or nourish our bodies. Without imagination we have only a heritage of routines and functional objects, and a world that breeds poor mental health: neglect of imagination contributes to feeling joyless, of ‘being stuck’ in life, procrastinating in our relationships or work, or every which way of being in the world.
Excess procrastination is what imagination sounds like when it silently cries for help.
Imagination is encouraged through play: whether that is child-like recreation or other explorative engagement with materials and resources, with embodied engagement including and combining the senses, and for no ends other than to learn by our own discovery. Even the simplest imaginative pursuits – storytelling, drawing, walking in the woods or on a seashore, doodling, gardening – enable us to relax, to expand, and to re-connect with a core sense of rapture, of belonging-in-the-moment, and of transpersonal experiences such as experiencing one-ness with spirit and/or cosmos.
Imagination, then, is a connection with our true and resilient wildness, with the deepest parts of our nature in awe at Life.
Imagination makes leaps, gives us wings, evokes other-worldliness, connects and reconnects. It is our story.
Serendipity is key. While some technologies give us much entertainment, or save us from drudgery, they can also reduce the exercise and expression of our unique imaginations.
For example: all of the screens!
And what others put onto them, and how we shape ourselves in order to fit these defined worlds and their norms. Imagination must be given its own stage in the Minds’ Eye; be free to catch new tunes and ideas as they pass through in rushing streams of conscious thought, or pick them out of the language of symbols that we imagine into being.
Our awesome human capacity to imagine ways to adapt in adversity are no different to solving a puzzle, or composing a tune, or building a shelter. Imagination is the choreography behind every dance of life.
We must give more time and value to it, each and every one of us: and urgently so.
the above is an extract from ‘A Guide to Thriving in These Dark Times: Values, Resilience, and Grit in The Age of Monsters’ (working title) by Lucy Lepchani, to be published by Crafty Little Press in 2019.