We were nearing the metro entrance now and I watched my son sort of skip/run/fast walk/is it jumping? alongside me, as only young children can.
My bouncing Tigger of an 8 year old son was sharing with me the latest flash of inspiration he’d just had for a monster movie scene based in and around Brussels (where else?). Apparently he’s going to make it when he’s older but he’s been planning it in his head for months already.
All of a sudden though he stopped dead in his explanation, tilted his head to one side and I saw his nose crinkle up, just like it always does when he’s about to pose a question or share a thought that might be a bit of a curve ball or considered left field. You’re never quite sure what’s coming next and he always seems to catch me off guard or at a low mental ebb.
I waited expectantly and then it came, the sucker punch; ‘Mummy, what is imagination? I mean, why do we imagine?’. Boom! Not just one question, he’s given me a 2 for 1 deal for starters. Have to admit; you mentally and intellectually winded me there, son. Again.
All higher functions seemed temporarily halted and I just saw a big blank space before me. This was not something I had ever contemplated before. My brain kick-started back into gear and a flurry of thoughts hit me. This was going to take some time to sort out.
So I stalled. I told him I needed some time to think about it to give him my considered opinion. A question like that surely is deserving of some thought.
I’ve thought and here is my response.
Imagination could be considered a natural instinct. One which has relentlessly spurred mankind’s predominantly collective desire to progress; to continuously advance, to constantly improve.
Imagination is a survival instinct for the body, mind, spirit and soul. A built-in neural safety mechanism to help us deal with the smaller and bigger questions in life. Allowed to flourish it can be both a catalyst and fuel for inspiration.
Imagination can give motivation. Imagination can be a call to action. Imagination can ignite passion. Imagination provokes emotion. Imagination encourages empathy. Imagination creates a climate of change. Imagination can provide clarity of purpose. Imagination comforts and offers solace. Imagination can bring hope and joy. Imagination increases knowledge and occasionally shows us a glimpse of a pathway to wisdom.
It exists to counteract our opposing survival instinct. To impose order and structure (to more or a lesser degree) in this somewhat random and chaotic world in which we live.To look for rules, hunt for patterns, to seek certainty. To create mental frameworks, which previous experience has taught us, are ways to safely interact and operate with the world around us that seems to have secured our survival thus far. To maintain the status quo.
Imagination should never be under estimated. Imagination wields power. Imagination bears a weight of responsibility.
Imagination is the one super power every single human on this planet possesses.