Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Imagination Works

I believe we are all born with a wonderful application that expands the working of the human mind to take on the role of entertainment theatre, tutor, detective, psychic, creator and occasionally torturer. It is called the imagination. Some people claim that they don't have any, but I strongly suspect that (often through no fault of their own) it just got disabled. It can have multiple functions, but for the moment I will list what I consider to be the four most prominent ones.

 1. Open a frequency - incoming signal expected. Most artists, writers and musicians have experienced those moments when you are in the zone. When you sit in front of a keyboard to write a few sentences and end up looking at pages that just seemed to flow like water. When you appear to function as little more than a channel for something that blows you out of the water... This is when the imagination functions in its purest form, as a blank canvas, receptive to the unchecked flow of inspiration, where-ever it comes from, whichever spirit guided it.  

2. Start from scratch creation. This is when you have an idea, but for some reason, you want to spend a little time playing with it, as if it were modeling clay and you are in the mood to potter around a little.. You let it germinate, sprout a few roots and side branches.. experiment with the possibilities, do a test run, make a few adjustments along the way, until it comes together smoothly. This function is no less than the previous one - it just incorporates other elements. In the case #1, the idea probably chose you as a vehicle to set it on its path towards fulfilment. In the case of #2, you chose the idea, as a vehicle for learning and perfecting your craft, be it writing, art or music.

 3. Color the template. The first two functions were those of highly creative people, whose imagination will be fully enabled, but function #3 can be available to persons who will probably never write a book or produce a work of art. Do you read? Have you ever sat down with a book and halfway down the page you can sort of visualize this character or the setting he/she is in? Although you did not write the story, your imagination somehow got switched on by the writer's genius and while he/she gave you an outline, your mind is coloring it in, a bit like when you were a kid with your box of crayons. Music, art, games - various forms of art have the ability to draw you in to the point where you become a co-creator of a reality someone else created. Ever listened to a song and have this private movie running in your head? It's the same principle.  

4 Fix the chinese puzzle. In this case, you also get a template, but it is incomplete or there is something wrong with it. You have to figure out somehow how it should have been put together to make it work the way it is supposed to. This function is the detective, the trouble-shooter, the engineer. It can be used in combination with start from scratch creation, if you run into trouble, or it can be applied to an object or a situation that has been tampered with in some way. In all honesty, it can be the most difficult of the functions to succeed with. (t.y.m. - thank you to my inner muse for helping me work this one out)