We all have an imagination, even those of us in serious jobs, living serious lives full of serious things. Gifted liberally with these fictional flights of fancy as children, all of us hold onto at least a little imagination when we ‘grow up’.
It is our imagining of how good that double-choc gelato might taste that inspires us to break our New Year’s resolutions. It is our imagining of travelling around Australia in a Ute with a caravan and a border collie when we retire that inspires us to keep working, and it is our imagining of writing that last word to our perfect opus that inspires us to keep writing.
But imaginations are not only used for good.
Imagination can dress up as fear, and stop us from doing something significant, as we use it to ‘see’ all that can go wrong. It can cause us to perceive judgements, pain and criticisms in the words of others, when no such intent is there. It can also allow us to justify terrible behaviour by imagining a just cause.
However, bad imaginings are not always ‘bad’. Last night I took a long time to go to sleep as I imagined the night that some people were spending in Queensland; marooned on rooftops, not knowing when the house might collapse and spill them out into the torrent of flood water. Of not knowing where loved ones were, or if they had made it to dry land in time. While this side of my imagination left me sad and exhausted, I think it squarely goes on the good side of imagination.
Empathy is one of the most important emotions needed for humanity to get along in peace, and you cannot have empathy without imagination. Empathy helps us to understand others, and it inspires us to help in times of need. It can also make us appreciate our good fortune, which we all take for granted too often.
So if you too were kept up last night with thoughts of the victims of the Queensland floods, please continue to use your imagination for good. You can always donate, but I’m sure you could brainstorm a better way to help, if you just ask for a little guidance from your imagination.