Transforming Thoughts into Things: On the Power of Imagination

By Adam J. Pearson

When you walk through the city, it might surprise you to realize that most of the things that you see around you began as thoughts. Think about all of the advertisements, game consoles, iPods, televisions, appliances, clothing items, buildings, streets, traffic light systems, and products. All of these things were born as ideas; they started in human minds.

The same is true for much bigger structures like schools, governments, economies, cultures, and societies. Each of these things was born out of the ideas of one or many individuals. This power to convert thoughts into things is one of humanity’s most amazing abilities. We have the power to not only imagine things that never existed before in the history of the universe, but also think about how they might be possible, and finally turn them into realities.

Millions of years of evolution have endowed us with the brain power needed to imagine, to envision, to conceptualize, and to create. With this power, we have reshaped the whole face of our planet for better and for worse and have repeatedly transformed the entire fabric of human life throughout our species’ history.  Metropolises have replaced villages of thatch-roofed huts.  Skyscrapers now tower over the ground far below as airplanes carry human beings through the sky.  While they share enduring commonalities, the lives of ordinary people in the Medieval period and the 21st century could not be more different.  These changes, propelled by technological advances, are due largely to advances that began first in the field of thought.  Ideas transform not only those who come up with them, but also the worlds they inhabit.  Thought shape things. 

With power comes responsibility; as we determine how to use this amazing power to transmute thoughts into things, our challenge is to think about how we can use it wisely. Our abuse of this power has resulted in the countless economic, environmental, geopolitical, and social crises that we face today. Our task, on the international scale, is to figure out how we can use our powerful problem-solving ability to improve as many of these situations as we can.

On the personal level, our task is think about how we can use our creative powers to make our relationships with each other and with our environment more harmonious and suppportive. How can we have relationships that support, nurture, enrich, and interest, rather than ones that are dysfunctional, harmful, conflicted, and destructive?

In addition, we can ask ourselves what interesting things we can create to enrich our lives. Will we write poetry or stories, produce songs or sculptures, paint or dance, cook fine meals or design buildings, nurture people who are hurting or help our environment? Our imaginations and creative powers are like plants; when nurtured with the water and sunlight of practice and use, they grow and thrive.  When ignored, they shrivel and lose their vitality.

I find it worthwhile to challenge myself to create at least one thing each day.  It can be something small, like an original meal, or bigger like a song for a new album.  It can be practicing a new skill, learning something new, or  be physically shaping a new project.  It is up to you what you wish to create, but challenge yourself to create something. The more you create, the more exciting life becomes; you begin to see not only what is, but what could be.

Your reality grows to include not only what you find around you, but the possibilities that you imagine; you begin to move freely among the actual and the possible.  In short, as you create, you grow along with your world, and as you do, your life takes on a richer quality that fulfills you more than an uncreative life ever could.

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