Of Imagination and Creativity

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” –Joseph Joubert, The Science of Mind

Imagination is a mental faculty which creates images and possibilities of things we think of and suppose. Typically, when we imagine, we behold things that we would like and might prefer, as well as those we dislike and fear. As long as our minds are working, we imagine a range of possibilities in the course of sleeping and daily wakefulness.

Of especial interest are those positive imaginings that tease us with what might be or become, what only we ourselves can actualize or bring into being. That archetypal imagined process has been responsible for much of what is beautiful and man-made, whether they be impressive or admirable buildings, paintings, pieces of music, movies, books, quilts, and many other works of art. Every work of art or architecture that one might think of had its beginnings with one person’s imagination and a desire to realize imaginings and dreams of various kinds.

By itself, imagining can be a totally fascinating, self-engrossed/engrossing process that never gets off the ground until the imaginer chooses or is impelled by inspiration to take action through the acts and process of creation. “It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.” (Vida D. Scudder) Otherwise, imagining is nothing more than a limited personal “possession” or diversion likely to be shared at most in conversation with family and friends.

Far more interesting and influential are the imaginings shared with greater numbers of people, including many strangers and people we will not necessarily ever meet. When something as relatively brief as a poem is published in a newspaper or magazine, it is encountered later at different times by many (usually personally unknown) others. It becomes a meaningful and purposely shared communication that is a realization of something briefly and uniquely imagined some time before. In short, whatever becomes creative, whatever is creatively shared adds something to the knowledge, experience, and soulfulness of others as well, as to that of the world. “The process of writing, any form of creativity, is a power intensifying life.” (Rita Mae Brown)

Whereas imagination originates in self first, registering as inner awareness and exploration, creativity and creation bring imaginings to birth, to light, and into existence. It is much the same way with unborn children as it is with works of art–that which is imagined, conceived, and brought forth into being. Generally, human beings are creative by nature, whether they are parents or artists. In that life-giving, life-potential sense, we are, finally and perhaps ultimately, defined by our creativity and creative potential. “When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” (Coco Chanel)

Clearly, imagination is a wonderful faculty and process, in and of itself. But the creativity realized from imagination and imaginings is a fuller, richer, more significant expression of our individual potentials as people and as inner beings or souls.

(previously published here October 24, 2012)

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