There are few things of more importance to a kid than their imagination. All the swords, dolls, and blocks in the world would be pointless if a child didn't possess the ability to make them come to life. Granted, it seems to be used less these days with modern technology, but kids still rely on it for a lot. I can remember pretending I was a crime fighting ninja turtle with sais for gods' sake or a certain hero with a sword who, looking back, was pretty gay if you ask me. The point, though, is that as a kid, I embodied those characters and I became them for a little while each day. My imagination allowed me to suspend my life for the moment and become something else entirely and it didn't really require much effort or anything special. Everyone as a kid is able to do this and we even imagine whole worlds together occasionally. Some kids even have imaginary friends. Their imagination is so strong that they can invent complete personalities outside of their own. It's really kinda fascinating if you stop and think about it.
The frivolous and constant use of imagination stops once we hit puberty. It's point switches from imagining oneself as a king or horseback riding through the countryside to imagining what the person next to you looks like naked. Being a gay guy, though, I'm not sure which use sounds like a better time! The fun and innocence, though, is obviously drained from our imagination upon turning into sexual creatures and never gets replaced, sadly. At that point, we begin to view our imagination as childish and something to outgrow even though our creativity brought us so much joy. We feel pressured by our friends and parents to "grow up" and leave behind something we held so dear for so long. This generally appears to be the point where many people begin to feel negatively towards life, too, so it seems once the imagination is gone, so is the innocence of childhood.
With Easter fast approaching, my mind is often drawn back to my youth in the Catholic Church. Around every major Catholic holiday, there was a definite mystique that surrounded the traditions, and it wasn't just the fictional characters like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. With each Holy Day, there was a palpable magic in the air. This man and this god that seemed larger than life itself re-experienced their story every year and it was incredible, inspiring, and far-fetched. Now that I'm older and no longer believe in the faith, the feeling I get during any holiday is completely different, to which I'm sure many people can relate. Lately, I've noticed that I've slipped into a comfortable numbness related to the holidays now that their magic is drained completely. I'm content with their adult forms, but I dearly miss the magic they used to have. My imagination used to be wrapped around these legends, and it is this that creates a lot of problems for adults. Our imaginations that were once so powerful and innocent come to defend the lore and myths of religion. We accept only these made up stories as truth and deny all else, even the religions of others, and the once pure tool of imagination becomes something extremely dangerous. How probable is it that a man was crucified and rose from the dead three days later? Or that a man parted the Red Sea? Or that the world is held up by a pile of turtles? All of these ideas are believed by people, even though to a different culture from the one in which they were formed, they all sound like the fruits of an overactive imagination.
Before the advent of modern science, adults used their imaginations to explain the wonders of natural phenomena. It takes an extremely creative person to explain away the stars, the sun, the moon, and the weather with such eloquent and inspiring stories. To the Greeks, the Sun was merely the Chariot of Apollo riding across the sky each day, which made complete sense to them at the time. Such a belief was obviously concocted in someone's imagination. We, of course, understand the the sun is actually a massive ball of gas and heat that emanates enough light to give this planet life and we believe the Greek story to be nothing more than that: a silly, childish story. A flower was once a person and thunder was the wrath of the gods. To us, it sounds naive and we often learn these stories as kids to help pepper our own potent imaginations, but are these stories that far from a man raising the dead and walking on water?
Technology and rationality have come to replace imagination in our modern age. Fitting for this time of the year, I watched a documentary today that scientifically and logically explained each plague that Moses brought down against the Egyptians. Most were interconnected and it all required the exact perfect storm, but each one was explainable. We can track storms, predict eclipses, cure an innumerable amount of diseases, talk to another person who lives thousands of miles away and this is all done with technology and rationale. But, let's face it: is that as fun as imagining that fairies exist or that spirits roam the forest? With all of our modern comforts and toys, many of us yearn for a more magical time when the simplest things inspired wonder and awe.
As adults, we generally use our imagination for the most boring and unproductive shit. As kids, our imagination added to our day and brought most of us happiness, while most adults use theirs to worry, me included. We stress creatively and imagine all of the things that could possibly go wrong in every situation, all the time. Most grown ups rarely use their imagination for anything productive and it merely adds to the ego and the mind's constant flow of generally useless thoughts that distract us from the present moment. Part of me questions if the imagination is simply an extension of the ego and the mind or if it's a tool of the soul to bring us closer to the Universe, God, and the Truth. In my current path, I'm trying to re-connect with my imagination in meditation and its power there is pretty respectable and humbling. I've witness a colored spectrum of me's that exist inside my soul and mind and I've had different experiences with each one. I've felt the healing power of a white light and I've been in near-trace states all thanks to my imagination during meditation, and this is what leads me to believe that meditation is the next logical evolution of imagination in adults.
Another part of me wonders if the stories and myths of old have to be replaced and if we need to retire the imagination to the deepest recesses of our minds at all. I keep referring to the stories of Christianity and Judaism to prove a point because people believe these stories today, even though they're pretty fantastic and mythical. Is it such a bad thing to believe that an ordinary guy could heal the sick or affect the weather in a massive way? Or that one's being chased by monsters in the forest or that angels are watching over us? I've noticed that effectively wielding my imagination brings fun into my life fairly easily. It's pretty obvious that even as far as our technology and science have come, we haven't quite figured everything out just yet. Pretending and maybe even thinking and feeling that a creature, whatever it may be, is kneeling next to me while I meditate in the woods makes me feel more connected to it all, and I think that's all that really matters, logic and rationale be damned.