I have had to consciously rehabilitate my imagination because I learned as nearly everyone in the culture learns, that imagination was a waste of time, a sign of immaturity. Imagine my surprise when I came across the Albert Einstein quote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
I think I learned to equate imagination with insanity. The only person in my extended family was my father’s mother, an interior decorator who died in the state hospital. She had the misfortune of having manic-depression before lithium. She died a year before lithium came on the market.
It didn’t help that some of my favorite writers killed themselves– Inge, Sexton and Berryman, all in the same year, I think.
I wrote imaginative verse but it helped to be drunk. Whiskey silenced the voice of fear. Later, I learned to use physical and psychological pain to fuel the writing– it allowed me to blast through it. But it was exhausting. It helped that my fans liked the more imaginative poems.
Now I think that imagination is desperately needed in this country. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) And we are there. We are earning fewer inventions every year. Our standard of living is falling.
I used my imagination in business– but tilted towards public relations rather than the more imaginative advertising, even though I am much better at advertising.
Interestingly, I just did a search on ‘imagination” and then “imagination– strengthening” and very little came up. Actually, almost zip. And I’ve collected books over the years.
The more adventurous is the Einstein Factor by Win Wenger is great. Visualize Confidence by Kirwin Rockefeller, PhD and Put Your Mother on the Ceiling by Richard De Mille are all helpful in strengthening your imagination. If you can find any books by Alex Osborn one of the founders of the advertising giant, BBDO, they are also helpful. I believe they are all out of print.
Where I am now— imagination is a gift of the human spirit. We all get it at birth. It opens up the world and most of us learn to shrink it and only use it for repetitive fantasies. But it is also the source of all art and most human achievement. It is also the source of human evil. So without acknowledgment that imagination is a gift of the Divine and has responsibilities to use it wisely.
I am going to use EMDR and see if I can extinguish the rest of the fear of my own imagination. I need to think more about this too.
Sharpening one’s imagination is a tool that helps prevent writer’s block. If you have any experience freeing up your imagination, would please share it here?