Tuesday, May 1, 2012

use your imagination

When I was a child, I played a game on long trips in the car. I would stare out the side of the window in the back seat, following the endless telephone wires that always ran along the roads. Pole, after pole, after pole. Pretending I was running along the wires, barefooted or swinging from wire to wire like a monkey or a trapeze artist in a circus – my imagination ripe with new visions every trip. A child’s imagination is something an adult might greatly desire – especially an adult that has forsaken their imagination. Did I decide one day to leave my imagination hanging on those wires outside the window? No, it was never my intention to lose this gift. I think it’s still around somewhere. Deep in the recess of my mind is the power to believe, to fancy up a character, to solve problems. Imaginations often seem to get lost in reality. They might even seem troublesome. Is there room in the reality of deadlines and homework, to-do lists and meetings, for the imagination?
Imagination often gets called by other names: brainstorming, collaborative thinking, even our hopes and dreams. Think about it, when was the last time someone told you to “use your imagination?” It might have been kindergarten; it might have been last week. Either way, I would argue that we all actually use our imaginations quite frequently, our purpose in how we use our imagination is what I find to be lacking.
With minds unchecked, our imaginations often run wild. Not with fanciful tales, white rabbits or Green Giants, but with false realities that lead us astray in reality. We imagine conversations to be had the next day, dreaming up scenarios with that someone you have yet to actually talk to, bold statements we’ve always wanted to say to our boss. We’ll make ourselves the hero of the story. The problem? What is real? How has what we’ve imagined impacted your actual living? Have we created a false reality that simply isn’t…real? Often this does harm rather than good. Our hopes will be shattered and our dreams won’t come true if we imagine situations that we are not willing to act out. Or, the situations we are imaging are better left unthought.
If this is a poor use of our imagination, what is a fruitful way to imagine? I would suggest reflecting on a piece of art, a song, a photograph, or another form of media. Let yourself be transported to the location of the photograph. Write about it. Dream up what happened there. Think about the artist behind the easel or lens – why did they take this picture? Why did they paint these strokes? What was the process that brought them to this result? What did they want you to see? It might be hard to do if you haven’t stretched your imagination out in this way; it will become more natural the more you practice.
Reflecting in this way, using ones’ imagination might also surprise you the next time you read scripture. Reading Psalm 23 and closing your eyes to imagine the streams you rest beside, the pasture He has lead you to, it’s radiant; fragrant; peaceful. You might think – I didn’t realize He meant this! Bringing new eyes and a thoughtful, imaginative, creative mind to scripture, you will be drawn into the words in new ways. The practice of reading aloud or being read to also aids in the use of your imagination. Try it sometime. Be original, use your imagination.
To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted. ~George Kneller
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Cheryl said...

So well put. I will bring my new eyes to what I see, rather than rush through my day today!
Thank you~

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