Imagination – If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It

April 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

I was beginning to feel the stress in my back. Hours of toil, hunched over this old typewriter, while my fingers play that off beat tune that every writer is familiar with. The clack clack clack of the keys are lost in my ears and are replaced with the words in my mind. After all, my hands are an extension of my thoughts by which I communicate ideas.

The audible change in the tide as it rises closer to my home alerts me of the late hour. The warm evening air brings the chill off the ocean as it runs over the waves and perfumes this room with its essence. The surrounding San Juan jungle comes alive with the calls and cries of nocturnal beasts and island natives, as a red gibbous moon climbs toward the zenith. Voodoo is in the air tonight and the only thing keeping the weirdness away are these four walls. Our house is but a cinderblock, constructed of concrete and tin, precariously set alongside the Atlantic shoreline.

Like the wavering flames of the candles by which I write, my concentration becomes unsteady as I slap away the sharp pricking bite of a mimi. Little devils, tinier than a normal mosquito, that come in the afternoon to bother the locals and terrorize the tourists. It’s late, but I only have a few hundred words to go. I must get it out. Out of my mind and on to this cheap stationery so I may earn this week’s cache of food and rum.

Do you have an imagination? No this isn’t a trick question. While you ponder on that, let me ask this; have you ever heard someone, maybe yourself, say that they don’t have a very good imagination? Why is that? Why is it so easy for children to escape to an imagined dreamscape, while adults struggle to comprehend the logic behind today’s youth?

Okay, okay, enough with the questions. The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to those questions, I ask them to prompt those gears in your brain to start turning and creating answers you can only create through your own specialized knowledge. I also ask these questions to kick start some creative thinking, just in case the intro was not successful. The opening is an excerpt from an exercise I use to juice up my imagination before I begin to write seriously. In this example I was reading a section of a biography of Hunter S. Thompson. In this section Hunter was living in San Juan. Reading about his location and situation stirred something within me and compelled me to conjure up, through his perspective, what life must have been like.

If at any point you were able to feel the San Juan breeze, or hear the Atlantic oceans crescendo on the shore, you utilized your imagination. If by chance you are one of the population that believes you don’t have a strong imagination, let me say this; the imagination, or creativity that you have within is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it will become. So if you believe your sense of wonder has atrophied, it is your fault and your fault alone. As Mr. Hill states in his chapter on Imagination,

“Your imaginative faculty may have become weak through inaction. It can be revived and made alert through use.”

A primary focus that I found most intriguing was Napoleon’s dissection of our imagination into two categories; synthetic and creative imagination. Though constructed from the same ability, each one originates from different paths of inspiration.

According to Mr. Hill, the synthetic imagination is the faculty were we “arrange old concepts, ideas or plans into new combinations.” He then goes on to explain that through the use of the creative imagination, “the finite mind of humankind has direct communication with Infinite Intelligence. It is the faculty through which ‘hunches’ and ‘inspirations’ are received.” Now, though I appreciate this philosophy, I would like to synthetically take a stab at creatively explaining how I believe we can truly activate our imagination and use it.

Instead of a notion of two forms of imagination, I believe that there are levels of imagination by which we are able to function. First is that prescribed “hunch” or “inspiration” or that creative imagination that sparks the thought process which inevitably becomes an idea. Once our idea becomes concrete or takes form as a desire, we utilize our experience, education and observations to synthetically imagine how to transform our dreams into reality.

Someone who I envisioned while preparing for this month’s theme was, as I mentioned earlier, Hunter S. Thompson. Though most people are only aware of Thompson’s persona as a drug addled drunk, made popular by his book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, few have been exposed to his other works and his style known as Gonzo journalism. Hunter saw the world differently than most folks, and wasn’t afraid to show it. As a nation watched the ’72 presidential campaign unfold and read about honorable politicians masquerade across the states, Thompson believed, “With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.” So that’s what he wrote about.

All in all, our imagination is unique to each and every one of us. Whether we use it or not isn’t important, it’s how we use it. Some are intimidated by their own thoughts and therefore chose to not share them with the world. This is a shame. I had a friend once, who told me,

“Your imagination is what you are, not who you are.”

Now I am not sure what he exactly meant by that, but my only reasoning behind his statement is, your dreams are trying to tell you something, your inspirations are yelling at you to do something. Don’t listen to who others think you should be. Be yourself and listen to what those dreams say about you. Sometimes the quickest way to discovering who we are is stopping, being still and allowing your mind to drift off to where ever it wants to go.

“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson

This article is written by David Leingang.

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