Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imagination

Many of us spend very little time cultivating our imagination. The early twenty-first century was expected to give us more leisure time as automated devices freed us up from household chores. But instead the pace of life has robbed us of quiet times to dream and create. Add to this the fact that we have so much information and entertainment available to us and one soon sees why most of us are quite content to absorb someone else's imagination as we settle in for a night of television, movies, or video games. Most are content to listen to music rather than compose; read books rather than write; view movies rather than produce; and critique art rather than create. Perhaps you are one who has thought about using your imagination and becoming more creative. Can we cultivate an imagination? The good news is that we can. Think of imagination as an ability to play. When I was young I had no problem imagining that my bicycle was a space-ship on which I cruised through the solar system. I could use it to visit interesting planets and lost civilizations. When I was bored with another afternoon on the farm I could readily invent something that was far more interesting than dirt roads and fields of grain. My mind could transform these into other places, other times, and other creatures. Trees became jungles, barn-cats became fierce carnivorous beasts, and a granary roof the look-out for a castle. How could I be bored when I was capable of seeing all of these things in a single day?

Dorothy L. Sayers, in an interview, once explained how, at a certain point, she was discontented with her life and so she created a character in one of her novels that had all of the things she wished for. 

Lord Peter's large income... I deliberately gave him... After all it cost me nothing and at the time I was particularly hard up and it gave me pleasure to spend his fortune for him. When I was dissatisfied with my single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly. When my cheap rug got a hole in it, I ordered him an Aubusson carpet. When I had no money to pay my bus fare I presented him with a Daimler double-six, upholstered in a style of sober magnificence, and when I felt dull I let him drive it. I can heartily recommend this inexpensive way of furnishing to all who are discontented with their incomes. It relieves the mind and does no harm to anybody.[1]
What an amazing way to explain her process. I think I would have enjoyed spending an afternoon learning from Sayers. That too is another way to spark imagination: spend time with those who are creative. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and other writers were known to spend time together at a public house known as "The Eagle and Child" in Oxford. The group was known as "The Inklings" and they read each other's works and inspired each other's imaginations. If you want to write books it certainly can't hurt to hang out with those who already write. Spending time with authors and song writers is a great way to stimulate your own creative gifts. Perhaps imagination and creativity are not expressed in every person. That is likely what makes them such precious gifts. Yet, I am convinced that more of us are capable of imagination than the ones who actually go on to express their creativity. What projects lie dormant in your heart? What might come of dusting off your imagination?




[1] Barbara Reynolds, Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul, p. 230.

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