imagine

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We’ve seen a lot of houses lately. That happens when you’re looking for a new place to live.

It’s fun to see how other people live, to check out different styles of construction and notice the changes over time—to recognize what is modern and what appears outdated. 

In the process, there's one habit I’ve noticed my wife and I doing: we speak about the house we’re viewing as if it were our own, even if it’s one we have no serious intention of living in. I think it’s a helpful practice, to pretend we already live there and imagine how our lives (and furniture) would be structured in such a place. It allows us to weigh out the positives and negatives of a future there. This is one of the many benefits of employing the imagination.

Our capacity to imagine is a spectacular thing. I heard this from copywriter and coach, Joshua Boswell, in a video course, 

“As humans, we have the unique ability to imagine and turn those imaginations into reality through a process called creation. If you don’t imagine something, you can never create it.”

Imagination is not only helpful, it’s essential for creatives of any field.

The wonderful thing about imagination is how accessible it is: anyone can do it anytime and anywhere. But not everyone does. It is a rare and valuable trait.

If you’re like me, you may hear the dear departed Gene Wilder singing Pure Imagination. It sounds so lovely, so magical. But let’s be honest, we don’t all have a bunch of money and a crazy chocolate factory in which to live out our wildest (or wilder) imaginations. Even the dreamiest of dreamers has their limits.

Like just about any part of creativity, there is an inherent challenge to living imaginatively. To be imaginative, you must be willing to overcome your own inner doubts and distractions and use your mind with purpose.

There is a balance to be found between giving your mind a direct focus but also allowing it to roam free.

These days, we can be so task-oriented, so goal-focused, we forget to take time to daydream, to “waste time”. 

Okay critics, I hear you, if our heads are always in the clouds, we’ll never get anything done, we’re in danger of being called a good-for-nothing layabout by some old-timey person (heaven forbid). 

So I say sure, it’s good to be a hard worker, to keep your head down and be dedicated to a task, but sometimes you need to look up and see the sky above you. Sometimes you have to step back and ask why you’re doing what you’re doing and, ultimately, where you’re going with it.

When we become so consumed with the t-crossing and i-dotting of day-to-day tasks, imagination becomes essential to help us get the broader view.

To imagine is to let your mind free, to allow it to think whatever it wishes, without hindrance.

Some folks will tell you imagination is a waste of time—a pointless, idle practice. And yet those people rely on methods and tools which were imagined by someone else.

Our imaginations may take us to far-off worlds, but it may be in those far-off worlds where we discover the keys we need in this world.

So whether you’re looking for a new place of residence or even trying to picture what life is like for someone who lives on the other side of the planet, I invite you to take a little time to imagine, to let your mind roam (with some direction). You may be delighted with what you discover. You may learn a valuable lesson you can apply today. Or you might just be weirded out by the thought of an entire workforce made entirely of oompa loompas.

A.P. Lambert

A.P. Lambert is a creative professional who helps others live with creativity and purpose.