The imagination is so vast and interesting. It’s amazing that we can drift off and conjure up scenarios in our mind, and when we sleep these scenarios go rogue so our subconscious takes the wheel! Our imagined projections all seem so random, but are they?
Why do we lean towards the imagery we lean towards? What influences the imagination? Well, everything you’ve seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and touched is imagination fodder. These help to inform our predictions, comforts, thoughts, desires, and fears.
It’s known that the imagination of children is wickedly wild. They’re new here so anything is possible to them. Some may even struggle to distinguish between imagination and reality. From when we were young, we were fed images of toys, told various stories and watched all kinds of cartoons and films and these led us to think in certain ways and develop our morals. But who’s imagination were these drawn from? And what were these things depicting?
We live in a post-colonial, capitalist world (yes, we’re going there), so unfortunately, a lot of what we are fed and conditioned to imagine, is rooted in consumerism and domination.
The biggest threats to mankind right now are asteroids, climate change, disease, and nuclear weapons. However western media mostly depicts an apocalyptic fate as some form of recolonisation by non-human entities, whether that’s zombies, aliens, or robots. We’ve been pushed towards imagining that domination is the most central thing to validate us (which is why systems such as racism and patriarchy are still prevalent), and that drives the fear that being dominated will be our undoing.
When you ask most people what freedom looks like to them, many will imagine having a lot of money and doing little-to-no work. That is the capitalist dream. It’s why we all keep going. We all want that. This is not a unique expression of our personal essence; this is the carrot dangled in front of us by elites to fuel the underclass. So much so that people forgo other tangible types of freedoms at their fingertips.
If we were less programmed, here are some aspects of freedom we may otherwise spend more time imagining and desiring (in our own unique ways):
Mental freedom - to live without overthinking and unnecessary distress caused by traumas, conditioning, genetics, and other things that leave us poorly equipped to manage life.
The freedom to feel loved and beautiful without societal constraints forcing us into specific boxes to access these things.
Agricultural prosperity - having fertile land that grows all your favourite foods.
Community – being connected to those around you in a trusting and meaningful way, gathering regularly, never feeling alone.
Altruistic freedom – having the time and resources to effectively support the causes you care about.
Knowledge seeking – having the time and resources to limitlessly learn. And to discover the secrets of the world.
The wonders of fantasy
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love fantasy, consuming media that is absurd to reality and imagining things that could never be, are fun to me! I also really enjoy testing people’s limits with hypothetical questions. Using abstract and unlikely concepts.
Common entities that come up in fantasy-centred media are vampires, witches, and werewolves. I find them easy to imagine, when I read about these creatures, I have several frames of reference, so much that considering their existence is no longer an exercise for my imagination.
But when I learn about people with superpowers that I haven’t heard of before, new types of mythical beings, new storylines – I’m taken back to a child-like state. I’m made into a blank slate that must go back to the drawing board and think with a renewed perspective, which, to me, is very exciting!
On top of being exciting, exercising your imagination in new ways gives it abetter framework for flexibility, which helps us to problem-solve, to be emotionally resilient, to empathise, to be creative and to come up with new ideas.
And fantasy isn’t the only genre to do this. In fact, reading in and of itself forces you to create new imagery in your mind. Reading an autobiography makes you walk in another person’s shoes, relate to their experiences, and understand their perspective. Reading history means you must visualise a reality loosely related to ours but with so many differences.
Diversifying the spectrum of authors/creators/artists/writers whose work you observe can really help to open up your mind to blind spots you may have previously been missing out from.
Creating art – making something new and interpreting descriptions to create something afresh is a good way to build your skills with visualising.
Consuming art – this helps with perspective building, interpretation, and empathy.
Reading (especially fiction) – when you read and create images to follow the story, you’re strongly flexing lots of imagination muscles.
Creative writing and story-telling – to imagine something and convey it in a way that allows others to understand what’s in your head is an amazing skill and means you have spent a lot of time considering the fine details of the imagery you conjure; you have mastered language enough to evoke empathy and perspective in others.
Walking – Studies show that walking outdoors stimulates the imagination.
Playing with children – why not learn from the masters? Their questions, roleplaying and curiosity can be helpful in stimulating your own inner-world
Meditating – If your mind is preoccupied with worries, ruminations, and stressors, it can be difficult to be creative, meditation can help to clear your head and focus on the things that YOU want to focus on.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate it if you could like, share and comment!
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