Lately I've been thinking a lot about imagination. This is mostly because I've recently finished reading The Wild Things by Dave Egger and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the film Where the Wild Things Are. The main character of both the book and the film, Max, has an awesome imagination, which, of course, is a product of real-life author Maurice Sendak's(and, more recently, author Dave Egger's) imagination. When you think about it, it's truly amazing to be exposed to the imagination of another and reading The Wild Things and re-reading Where The Wild Things Are has inspired me to think more about my imagination -- or lack there of.
Okay, I still have a pretty active imagination, but it is nothing like the imagination I had as a child. I would create these stories in my head -- completely nonsensical and far-fetched -- and I would truly believe them. The older I get, the farther away I seem to be from those moments of imaginative daydreaming, from those complete and utterly random ideas that came to me in clouds of inspiration. Lately I've been wondering: Why? Why has my imagination been stunted by my growth into adulthood? Thinking about it, I realized that the reason my imagination hasn't been performing the way it used to is because it's out of practice. All of those years of being negative and sarcastic and sad smothered my imagination. There was no room for it to grow and I spent so much time thinking about all of my real life "problems" that I left no space for my mind to wander and explore. Well, that's about to change!
Now, I'm all about living in the now, or, at the very least, trying to live in the now, so how does allowing my imagination to run wild fit in with living in the moment...? Good question. If I want to be living in the moment, how can I also be imagining what could be? Or, even more complex, how can I be living now and imagining things that aren't even logical possibilities? I looked up the definition of imagination, and, just as I feared, Merriam-Webster told me that imagination is the "act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses." Uh-oh. How can I exercise my imagination while still living in the present? This got me thinking and so I came up with some ideas of how I can cultivate my imagination while still living in the present moment...
How To Let Your Imagination Run Wild (in the Now)
Be very observant of what's around you. Paying attention of what's going on around you is a great way to stay in the present moment, but it's also an awesome way to stimulate your imagination. When you're paying attention to what's going on around you, you have the opportunity to see and hear and feel new things. In addition, paying careful attention in situations you find yourself often will alert you to things you may not have noticed before. Paying attention is a great way to excite your imagination while staying in the present moment.
Take a step out of your regular routines. Taking a break from your regular routines or standard routes is one of the best ways to jump start your imagination. When you put yourself in a new place or situation, you're forcing your mind to think harder. You no longer can go through tasks or down paths without thinking because you are somewhere new. When you're experiencing new things, you are usually so much more aware and this is a great time for your imagination to get some great exercise. Once you break from your routines, you're giving your mind a chance to see and think about the world differently, which is a great way to get new ideas.
Share your creative ideas with others. Sometimes imagining things can be isolating and it can take us away from the present moment, but there's a great way to live in the moment and explore with your imagination -- by sharing your ideas with others! Sharing your ideas and thoughts with others may help them become more imaginative and it can help you come up with even more great ideas. Bouncing ideas and creative thoughts off others is a great way to come up with more ideas. And, while communicating your imagined ideas with others, you're living in the present moment with that person. Interacting with others helps to keep you present.
Read, read, read as often as you can. In my opinion, reading is the absolute best way to stimulate your imagination. This ties in with the point I made above about sharing your ideas. I don't know about you, but when I read something truly creative and interesting, something that has stemmed from someone else's imagination, I feel utterly inspired. Getting a little glimpse into the minds of others really makes me think and inspires me to explore my own imagination (which is what happened after I finished reading The Wild Things!). I know it's hard to fit in lots of reading, but it's one of the best ways to give your imagination a great workout.
Celebrate the imagination of others. Look around you and take note of all the things others have imagined. Observe what others have thought of or created and you're bound to be inspired. This celebration of imagination will remind you that there is so much to be grateful for and so much of what we have surrounding us is a result of someone's creativity. And, in many cases, creative ideas were sparked by witnessing another's creativity. So, look around you and imagine what the world would be like without all that has been imagined...
Henry David Thoreau once said, "The world is but a canvas to the imagination." I couldn't agree with that statement more. We have this whole great world around us and, more importantly, we have our amazing minds that can create thoughts and express them to the world. Sometimes I feel conflicted between diving into my imagination and staying firmly in the present moment, but I don't believe it has be either/or. We can be both present and imaginative. We can imagine while still living very much in the now. Imagination is a wonderful, amazing thing and we're all so lucky that we have the ability to think creatively, but I believe this is a balancing act and we must be careful not to get too carried away with our imaginations. Living in the moment doesn't mean we have to give up on imagination, and I hope that the suggestions I've offered here will help you to let your imagination run wild without losing sight of the present moment.
How do you exercise your imagination? Do you let it run wild?
What are your ideas for balancing imagination with living in the present?
Want to help celebrate someone else's creativity? One of my favorite nonprofit organizations, Friends of the World Food Program, is featured in the Goodbite.com "Awaken Your Senses" Challenge, which challenges food bloggers to create recipes based on their favorite food memories. What a great use of imagination! Not only do these bloggers get to recreate their memories, the blogger with the most votes will win $10,000 for his or her chosen nonprofit! Marc Matsumoto from [No Recipes] has chosen Friends of the World Food Program as his nonprofit and you can vote for his creative "Summer Sun" recipe as often as you like on Quaker Talk. Awaken your imagination by checking out the videos and please vote for Marc and support Friends of the World Food Program!