Imagination & Creativity

1st December 2016, 08:00am

Imagination is as priceless and as highly sought-after as true love- the great thing that distinguishes us from robots. Along with creativity, imagination is the currency of success for us all, and it's something we have from birth. When we're tiny humans we visualise creatures in the clouds, draw dreamt-up lands and characters, and act out scenes from exciting fantasies. Many think imagination ends with childhood, a cruel blow that many of us never recover from. But what happens when we lose it- do we really lose it?

Neonatal Paediatrician Dr Robert Guaran doesn't believe adults actually lose their imagination. Instead, our childhood imagination actually morphs into something else, something more useful.

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.

G. K. Chesterton

What happens is kids go through various stages of development and they experience "magical thinking". They don't really understand the world, or science. They don't understand things like gravity, so they make up stories to explain things in the world," Dr Guaran explains.

"If you don't know all about science, then you make up stories. Imaginative play or creative play is an important component of all childhood. It peaks at nine or ten years of age. Then you go through adolescence, where you have an idea that you're immortal, and all powerful- this is especially true for men. So we don't really lose our imagination, it just changes."

What is the price of this change? As a child, it's a huge compliment to be told, "You have a very active imagination." As an adult, that phrase quickly morphs into an insult, especially when used in the middle of a conversation about relationships, accusations of love affairs or lofty thoughts of self-importance.

Poets do not go mad; chess players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.

by G. K Chesterton

But, all is not lost. Even some of the brainiest of us- scientists- tap into their imagination.

"A scientist can show us how imaginative adults can be. They see a problem and use their imagination to come up with a solution: it might be the atomic bomb, or it might be medication that can cure a disease," Dr Guaran says..

"So what they are doing is taking all the knowledge they've got and say, 'Ok, with all this knowledge, what's the next step' They take their knowledge and they use their imagination to produce something extraordinary."

Our imagination never really leaves us. Even if we try to pretend we've outgrown our creativity, our imagination is right there waiting for us, like a long-lost friend. Well, imagine that.

Click here to view our Imagination story by THE LAB.

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