“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” (Henry David Thoreau)
I can think of few things in the human existence more powerful than a strong imagination. My imagination can take me to faraway lands, even those that don’t actually exist. I can dream of being whomever I want, and see myself doing wondrous things. I can paint my life to be whatever suits my fancy of the day.
As a child my imagination was vivid. I could use my mind easily to fill in the gaps where my other senses did not. I could watch a movie like The Wizard of Oz, and see past the primitive special effects. To me, terrifying monkeys could fly and wreak havoc. I could read the most mundane story and put myself directly into a scene more vivid and detailed than any author would dare to paint with words.
As I got older, my imagination slowly moved to the backseat. My 5 senses became my predominant vehicle for setting a scene. I watched movies and TV shows with a far more critical eye. The simplicity of believing in phasers and space travel in Star Trek gave way to owning a nitpickers guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went from immersing myself in the story to finding the flaws in the script.
In recent years I have been around families with small children. Several of our best friends have children or grandchildren under the age of 10. Seeing how they play has rekindled my own imagination. Whether I am watching my wife become one of the Billy Goats Gruff, or sitting with them and creating a story world with the smallest of toys, the fire of my imagination has grown.
I still nitpick at movies. I do that in part because of my own attention to detail, and it is just fun. But, I also do try to just immerse myself in the story. In this past week I have watched both “The Posiedon Adventure”, and “Poseidon”. Two movies about the capsizing and sinking of a cruise ship made 34 years apart. It was interesting to see how the special effects had evolved between 1972 and 2006. But what was more interesting to me was how quickly I was fully engaged in the movies. I allowed my own imagination to put me in the scene working with the other cast members against the powers of nature and the sinking of the ship.
Today Thoreau talks about the entire world being a canvas to the imagination. On the surface, this quote reminds me that my imagination can still be a powerful force to take me to a land of fantasy and fun. But, at a deeper level it reminds me that the future is unwritten. What I make of the world I live in is as much driven by the power of my imagination as it is by the forces of nature itself.
Today I greet a new week with a wondrous anticipation. I look forward to seeing how this day, and this week unfolds, and I know that my own imagination will help me paint the canvas of my world to be what I dream it to be.