Column: A world without imagination is dull

Published 1:03 pm Saturday, October 11, 2008

Imagine a world without imagination.

Imagination, like art, is superfluous, you say. It’s one of those extra things — way down on the necessity chain, after math, reading, history, science, computers, etc., I think they are all related.

Picture in your mind a room that is white — plain white walls, floor and ceiling. There are no windows and you are surrounded by soft lighting that doesn’t even cast a shadow. How does it feel? How long would you like to live there?

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You are in a world with no art and no creativity, no imagination, no warmth and no life.

When the doorbell rings and you answer, there stands a man from the local furniture store. He is delivering an upholstered, cushiony, brick red colored lounge chair. Just looking at it makes you want to snuggle in. Your thoughts are not about the designers who created the style, the fabrics, nor the mechanism that makes the chair unique. Your thoughts are probably about “cozy, comfortable and warm.” You invite him in and even help him to place the chair in what seems to be the right place. What a difference it makes in your white room.

You settle into the recliner, and you are ready for an evening of what?

There’s no television to watch — television designed by creative-minded engineers, containing creative programming, both serious and entertaining. On those shows there are sets and costumes and dialogue and music — all designed by whom? Artists and writers with marvelous imaginations.

There are no books to read — books by artists, photographers, authors, all with creative imaginations and a unique ability with words.

There are no lamps, no tables or carpeting designed by… No snacks in packages or liquid refreshment in cans designed by… On the walls no pictures painted by whom? No newspapers designed and written by creative, imaginative people. No cell phone designed by … No windows with interesting wood trim or curtains made of fabrics designed by … Do you get the picture?

Everything in our life is related in some way to creativity. It makes our world more comfortable, more beautiful, more convenient, more safe and more entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining — my husband, Michael, and I recently returned from Ireland. It was an incredible trip. Ireland is a beautiful country filled with warm, friendly people whose imaginations and creativity are unequaled.

For example, each year 300,000 tourists make the trek to the 15th century Blarney Castle, purchase a ticket, climb 125 turreted, circular, uneven and scary, stone steps, cautiously make their way around the walkway on the castle roof, lie down on their backs, and then slide the upper part of their body about 20 inches over the edge of the castle wall. With no personal photo taking allowed to record this momentous occasion, they plant a kiss on the Blarney Stone under a rock wall overhang, slide back to safety, retrace their steps down another turreted, circular, uneven stone stairway, then purchase the professional picture that was taken of them looking ridiculous kissing the stone that promises to make each one a more eloquent speaker.

It’s probably one of the biggest tourism hoaxes concocted in the history of mankind, and it’s an incredible moneymaker for the castle owners. It’s all blarney. As far as I’m concerned that’s another name for creativity. The Irish are just having fun with the word.

Each of us has a bit of the artist tucked somewhere inside. Whether the talent is used in painting landscapes, gardening, quilting, acting, drawing political posters, playing the violin, building a snowmobile trailer, storytelling, medical research, or sewing curtains, it is creativity. Our lives would be barren and sterile without it.

Please think about that white room, and then the possibilities of imagination. Which world do you prefer?