Why Imagination Matters

Indigenous people in various parts of the world lead fascinating lives. I envy their ability to experience realms we in the west only read about in books and see in obscure documentaries. To these people integrally living within natural surroundings, the plants freely speak and spirits respectively guide. It must be very different than anything we have here in a big American city. I can only imagine.

What is curious is these people are living their lives right now as you peruse these words on a glowing screen, powered by electricity. One could wonder what is really so different from talking plants and wise spirits compared to technological marvels we have become accustomed to. Can anyone observe electricity and radio frequencies working their magic any more clearly than Altjira, the Arrernte sky god, said by some native Australians to have created this planet? Beyond their underlying technologies, sprits and electricity become real through imagination.

In our earthly encounters we often relate to things which might be, and in that moment an interesting event happens. Through our words we conjure ideas of not merely invisible places, but also the beginnings of the order in which those places might function. The description of a simple object carries with it a rule set in the background. The light illuminating it, the day of the week in which it exists, even a notion of how old it is. Perhaps not immediately in the forefront of one’s mind, yet there if pursued.

A great quality of the human imagination is that it has no limits or ending

So where do we draw the line between reality, dreaming, and imagining? Some native peoples of Australia believe those in urban environments are in a dream state when going to work each day, all the way to laying down for the night. Then, when falling sleep – walking wide awake among the ancestors – wholly connected to everything physical, universal, and beyond.

I can only write these simple words to cryptically explain the vast inter-dimensional planes where the ancestors exist. It’s the depth and flexibility of imagination which establish a holographic experience in the mind, while activating meaning, context, and purpose. Words describe facts and measurable parameters. Imagination builds places and everything in them to the greatest detail, which is why imagination so dearly matters. Our educational system will provide western culture with a powerful toolset the day curriculums move beyond current academic fenceposts. To establish imaginative intelligence western culture must cultivate vision. Newly updated SAT tests could give way to a renaissance of creative solution making rivaling today’s fastest computers. Logic playing nice in the same sand box with visionary intangibles.

I’d like to walk alongside the tribal people trekking past Ulura (Ayers Rock) in central Australia to learn more about their realities, dreams, visions, and connection to places we in the west have yet to experience. The way indigenous people see themselves in this world seems so different from what we see in a fluorescently lit bathroom mirror, and yet our natural neighbors may only be a mindset away from a reality exponentially more expansive than any net browser window can display. Are any of us adventurous enough to cross the imaginary line from this world to theirs?

Illustration by Alison Williams

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