I have not been to Disney World and Epcot Center in over 30 years. But the two times I want prior to that, I loved the Journey into Imagination ride.
At its heart what a lovable purple dragon named Figment (as in a figment of your imagination). I adored this ride and have not experienced it since it was revamped twice.
But the notion tapped into something I’ve held all my life. Imagination is the spark that changes the world.
Children have this incredible ability to visualize worlds beyond the conception of most adults. When I was a kid, the windows looking out into our front yard were at just the right height where I could sit with the mid-chest. And that became the starship I was flying.
The swings in my backyard were my starfighters. I ran around, fought off, and allied with various aliens that existed only in my mind.
When I was older, I acquired a large number of Star Wars action figures, playsets, and vehicles. Beyond the original trilogy (because it was during my childhood that the original Star Wars movies came out) I took Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and the droids on all kinds of adventures.
Even within the limitations of the characters of the Star Wars universe, my imagination knew no bounds. Hence, at age 9, I wrote my first sci-fi story. Not fan-fiction — an original story from my imagination.
It’s easy to equate imagination to fiction. Characters, situations, and worlds parallel to our own or original are the basis of fiction. But imagination is not fiction alone. Imagination builds knowledge.
Necessity and invention
Another memory of my youth involves Schoolhouse Rock. There were lots of cool lessons that popped up during Saturday morning cartoons in song form. One was called Mother Necessity. While it spoke of how needs were filled by inventions and inventors, the catchy tune sparked imagination.
Many of the great scientists and inventors of history saw a necessity in need of filling. They imagined a way to do that. A communications device capable of transmitting sound over wires (beyond Samuel Morse’s dot and dash tones) inspired Alexander Graham Bell to invent the telephone. A scientist named Jagdish Chandra Bose demonstrated the science of capturing radio waves in the 1890s (which Marconi used in his invention).
Over time, the wired communication became wireless — leading to the tech we readily take for granted today. Can you imagine life without mobile phones and wireless internet? (Doing so, at this point, employs your imagination).
But the simple necessity of faster, long-distance communications gave way to more. The first cellar phones were quite a bit larger and less powerful than a modern smartphone. To get from there to here took just shy of 50 years.
In that time, we went from a large handset capable of making and receiving calls to a pocket-sized device capable of holding and accessing information available globally (and exponentially more capable than the first computers).
This exists because in the imaginations of some people they saw the potential and possibilities. They took that a step further — and invented this tech.
Imagination isn’t just for creating fantastical worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, or this reality historically shifted from our own in some way — it provides technologies that change the function of the whole human race.
Imagination is a gateway to control change
The unknown terrifies a lot of people.
Uncertainty feels uncomfortable. We love to be comfortable.
However, we also desire to grow and connect to the world at large.
Part of this comes from this truth: Change is the only constant in the Universe.
Like it or not, change happens. Sometimes it’s infinitesimally small — and other times it’s huge and cataclysmic. But it always happens, is always present, and can’t be stopped.
It CAN be altered, directed, and controlled — but only on the individual level. Which causes a lot of problems when certain “powerful” groups and individuals attempt to shoehorn everyone into a particular box. Then we get the artificial divisions that dominate the world based on a combination of superficial differences like skin color and sex — and completely invented differences — like religion and nationality.
You are here to experience life and all it has to offer in your own, unique way. How you desire that to be is your choice. The decisions you make take you on the journey that is your life.
Imagination is how you direct change. It opens you to taking control of change by seeing something that makes an impression on you. That impression from your imagination guides what you do, how you live, who you choose to be.
In some instances, you become a creative. I’m a writer sharing ideas to both better this world and notions of fantastical worlds of my pure imagination. Painters, sculptors, metal workers, singers, actors, and the like work with imagination to create entertainment, distractions, and gateways to further imagination in others.
If George Lucas hadn’t created Star Wars, I don’t know that my imagination would have developed as it had.
Change and what it means to you is inside of your control. That often begins with imagination.
Imagination creates our world
Consider this: A hundred years ago instantaneous global communications didn’t exist. An international space station in orbit above Earth was fantasy. The device you read these words on was fictional if even conceived of.
The point being that imagination is what makes the world. Inventors imagine a thing that they foresee improving and/or altering life in one way or another beginning in their imagination. Then, they imagine how to make it real — and the next thing you know the Star Trek communicator is a cellular flip-phone.
Not all of us can imagine the fantastical and fiction into reality. Instead, we share other fictions of our imagination to entertain and enliven the imaginations of others.
Science and math are great and do a lot for our understanding of the world. Sports provide exercise and/or diversions. But without imagination, they have nowhere to go. And that’s because, ultimately, it’s imagination that creates our world.
You, as such, are capable of imagining incredible things. That, in turn, helps further grow, change, alter, and improve the world at large. Imagination builds knowledge — and you get to choose what kind of builder you desire to be.
What do you contribute to the world via your imagination?
Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on May 4, 2021.