What fuels your imagination? Do you even value your imagination amid daily life and demands on your time, roles, skills, and abilities?
For too many of us our imaginations get set aside early in our elementary school years when learning information and developing thinking skills becomes the primary goal of education. Clearly, they are important, but we must never undervalue imagination. It is one of God’s great gifts to us and for everything we enjoy about the things we see and use now, imagination on the part of someone played a key component. Someone imagined something that did not yet exist and how to make it into a reality.
In Patti Callahan’s new book, Once Upon A Wardrobe, there is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that says, “the true sign of intelligence was not knowledge but imagination.“
There are more than one or two things that bring my imagination into action. Some of them include music that transports me beyond the space I am in while listening to it, nature’s wonder on display in every season and landscape, the intricacy of created humankind, art in all its forms, and of course, words written by authors who can transport the reader to places they have never been.
One thing that can stunt imagination is exhaustion with little time for allowing our senses to take in the things that are not work or duty related. If our schedule is driven by demands from dawn until late at night, there is little to no time for thinking about anything except those demands.
Another thing that stunts our imagination is to not value it or believe we have it because it may not (likely won’t) look like anyone else’s. Some of us are imaginative in practical things in the kitchen, building something, or designing something while others of us are imaginative in abstract things that comes from somewhere we cannot always even name. Beyond all the things listed above as sources, there are times it seems to emanate from somewhere deep inside of us. These are a part of our story and who can really say exactly where a story begins? Often a story comes to us in bits and pieces that do not necessarily fit into one theme or story and then when we aren’t expecting it, connections happen and a story flows out from those bits and pieces. That is how our lives develop as well.
Why is imagination important beyond development of all kinds of inventions and things to make life better in some way?
“Reason is how we get to the truth, but imagination is how we find meaning.”Patti Callahan
I have heard someone say on more than one occasion that they never read fiction and see it as trite or less valuable than other genres in their local library or bookstore. It can intimidate some who enjoys reading the latest novel or a classic from decades ago.
“With stories, I can see with other eyes, imagine with other imaginations, feel with other hearts, as well as with my own.”Patti Callahan
One of the gifts of a written story is how the author sits down at a computer or with pen and ink and often without a clear direction of what he or she wants to write and yet as the words come and fall into sentences and paragraphs, they take shape. Later when we read them, they can give words to something we only had a sense of before we read their words.
All writers are first of all readers. They become immersed in words, ideas, themes, and adventures that serve as fertilizer for their own imaginations and stories. If you are a journal person, as you sit down to write, what helps you about that process that is usually very personal? Doesn’t it help to take it from deep inside and put it down so you can better see it and sort it out?
“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills.”Patti Callahan
Stories also help us in another way. There are many parts to a story, just as our lives have many parts and many seasons. Our stories all have different themes over a week, year, and lifetime. Reading stories reminds us of important realities.
“All stories have the dark and scary part… Stories have their own truth.”
Because of that, we can be encouraged that it is like our life as well. It can have dark and scary parts, parts that do not make sense and yet they bring us to truth and remind us of the truth that life is hard. The stories remind us that it is universally true and not some specific way life is out to get us.
Douglas Gresham recently said in a Zoom chat I was part of before Once Upon A Wardrobe was released, “Books are living things. What hits us one time, hits us another way another time.”
I think that is perhaps why we may read the Bible every day of our lives and discover something different with each reading. A word or verse can seem as if we have never read it previously as our experiences are different and the Holy Spirit illuminates a different part of what God is trying to say.
Life is nearly always busy for great parts of it. Make time to find a good story and sit down and let it take you on an adventure that inspires you and gives you a new lens to see your life, the world, and God from a different vantage point.