The Timely Importance of Imagination

As summer officially begins, it seems that any joys the season typically brings have been canceled or closed. Pools? Closed. Camp? Canceled. Plans? Scrapped.  

But what if we told you there was a place that was open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? One where masks weren’t even needed, everything was free, and your wildest dreams were granted?

It exists. It’s called the imagination. And this summer, it’s more important than ever.

Fighting Imagination’s Kryptonite

Despite what you may have heard, the place where we defy gravity, design mansions, and dine with celebrities is alive and well. For most of us, it’s just gone dormant – for one rectangular, pocket-sized reason. Before phones saturated every moment of free time, we had something called idle time.

Waiting in line at the grocery store, commuting to work on the bus, and lying in bed before falling asleep, our minds were once left with nothing else to focus on. In those spaces, our brains would leap into problem-solving mode, creatively devising solutions to puzzles large and small. 

As quoted in Inc. Magazine, “Numerous studies and much accepted wisdom suggest that time spent doing nothing, being bored, is beneficial for sparking and sustaining creativity.” Any guesses as to what the magazine ascribes to our lost, well, boredom? You guessed it: “With our iPhone in hand – or any smartphone, really – our minds, always engaged, always fixed on that tiny screen, may simply never get bored. And our creativity suffers.” 

The Key to Stimulating Your Imagination? Nothing.

As famed broadcaster Walter Cronkite was nearing the end of his life, a reported named Peggy Noonan asked him what he did for fun. After all, he was one of the most successful journalists in the history of the world. His answer? “I like to go home and stare at the wall.” Noonan took his advice and wrote about the practice in an article years later: “If I just sit back and stare at the wall—and this is a good thing to do, for you’ll see a crack that reminds you of a stream that reminds you of a river that reminds you of a steamer that reminds you of a picture you saw when you were five—the reverie is soon interrupted by the rattle and hum, by the beeps and bings and buzzes. The fax, the computer, the call from the carpool.” 

So what’s the key to diving into our imagination? Turning off everything else and allowing the ideas to flow. Silence your phone, put it in another room, and set a timer. 30 minutes, perhaps. Lay in the grass or sit in a chair with a pad of paper. Let your imagination run wild. The likes and comments will be waiting for you when you get back.