Nature’s design has given us many tools for surviving, coping, and prospering in a dynamic world. These abilities and skills, are exercised by humanity so successfully that we have (with time) systematically subdued, or overcome, almost every obstacle to our survival we’ve encountered. While there are many factors which aided this outcome (with our language skills being one significant element of that success); perhaps our greatest tool for meeting these challenges is our power of imagination.
The ability to consider, manage, and manipulate within our thoughts, things which do not exist; things which have never existed, or are yet to exist. it provides us with a way to examine and test reality. Evaluate concepts which have no physical reference, or state of being, or state of mind. Even allows us to capture the thoughts and motives of others, from their point of view.
Any one of these ideas, once generated, can potentially be codified into words, and shared with others. And with the efforts of a group, transform the idea, from a thought to a new, physically self-existing object. Clearly this ability generates many benefits, when people work toward a common, agreed upon goal.
But the devastating power of imagination is that it has no limits. Some things, once imagination has given them life, are hard to ignore, forget or destroy. As we exist within the world of our thoughts and perceptions, the images our thoughts create can be considered as real as the input from our senses.
It is often life’s circumstances which influence the thoughts, desires, and focus; which direct where our imagination may go. This aspect of creativity, it would seem, goes where you send it. Thus it is often fueled by what you dwell on. So if you offer no path for imagination to explore, it is left free to wander.
However, as great as this ability potentially is within most people; it is often the case in our society we seek creative efforts, born from the imaginings generated by others. It’s an aspect of shared human thought which holds great value for a vast percentage of people in society.
Even though it provides no physical nourishment, or shelter from the elements, nor any kind of attire. Still, sharing the discoveries of our collective explorations into previously undiscovered possibilities, provides us the means to investigate reality far more comprehensively than is likely for a single human mind.
Since what is imagined can seem real (even beyond optical illusion), there is a benefit to sharing ideas, and perceptions with others. This is advisable for the sake of corroborating what registers as true, and what does not; if for no other reason. Which means this ability must be governed, and its results carefully vetted before its’ recommendations are accepted. And only then incorporated into beliefs or actions.
In addition, the productive application of imagination often requires a sustained effort to develop concepts of lasting importance, or influence. Failure to exercise sufficient care in that regard leads to the chance you belief in, and accept flawed ideas. That alone is reason enough to keep a healthy distance between what we imagine, and what survives our tests for reality.
For once an idea, or concept is incorporated into a person’s (or a group of people’s) understanding of what is real; it becomes fixed. Then it is extremely difficult to remove, or replace that idea with new information. Having a good imagination is a gift. Using imagination well is a strength. Understanding the power, and the shortcomings of imagination can (perhaps) lead to wisdom.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc