Your creative imagination will keep your mind alive

Your creative imagination will keep your mind alive

We are often caught up in our little moments of reflection and introspection, aren’t we? These are what Marcel Proust (1) calls moments of “involuntary memory,” (2) described as an image of a past happening triggered by a chance occurrence. You see a brilliant sunset and you are thrown back to your childhood, for example. If we expand upon this idea, we come to our creative imagination. This is a phenomenon that is encouraged by Sir Ken Robinson in his thesis on how to improve our educational system. (3) This is aptly practiced when we read about a historical person and accidentally stumble upon someone who looks like that character during our long-distance travels, as an illustration.

This actually happened to me at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. I had recently read an article on Rasputin. (4) He is credited with “placing the final nail in the coffin” of the Romanov dynasty during the waning days of the Russian Empire. (5) Suddenly, there he was not far from me, standing in a line awaiting a flight to somewhere. In an instant, he caught sight of me and recognized that I knew who he was. This, of course, sounds like madness. I only relate it to give Sir Robinson’s point context. How many other historical personalities are lurking just around the corner?

What I am talking about is an “invention of the mind.” Whether you are sixteen or sixty, you must have a healthy dose of this potion. It gives you life, creativity, and, most importantly, fun! It is great to discover a spy, criminal, or saint reclining not far from you. All of these experiences add to an appreciation that our consciousness is an interesting and rare gift, not given to every piece of life, for sure. The bats, bees, and bugs are not quite as lucky as we are. Now can I take this further and actually be a steward or protector of this planet – will I feel the compassion necessary? I believe most of us will answer, yes.

I find airports absolutely fascinating. Have you ever noticed – no one seems to be working, do they? People stride about with powerful-looking badges on their uniforms or drive one of those funny carts from “hither and yon.” Where are they going? The staff, most assuredly, is all-knowing and can ruin your trip at a moment’s notice. They are easily amused and seem to enjoy a good contest.

The one I have experienced, and I am sure I am not alone, is the “dodgy-gate game.” This is when they change the gate, at a moment’s notice and then broadcast it on a barely audible public address (PA) system. The unsuspecting passenger only discovers the tournament is underway when the portal has “just” been closed. “We are sorry; we called your name three times” – hmm! Throw in the endless security and the searches up, down, and sideways and the travel experience has become light-years from what Sir Thomas Cook, (6) the father of modern travel, first imagined. Was the past any different you may wonder? Remember to keep that imagination alive!

The great chef and raconteur, Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018), leaves us with a thought: Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. (Parts of this essay were first published in 2019)

A closing thought: I always feel as if I am running late. I once had the unfortunate experience of this becoming a reality. I am old enough to remember a time when airports barely had security. It was thus possible to convince an agent to allow you on to your flight “at the last moment.” This habit was recently cured when my train to the airport was late, or so I claimed. Now I am talking, “only five minutes.” “Sorry sir,” was the perfunctory response, “the gate has closed.” “Well, open it!” was my flummoxed reply — sadly, all to no avail. They stood firm and added a security guard or two thrown in for good measure. Hubris and its bedfellow, arrogance are dangerous curses, I was duly reminded.

To sum up: This week we spoke about imagination: fuel it, stoke it, and it will carry your mind through old age. As an aside: a major cause of dementia is mental stagnation.

To be noted: from Euripides (7) — Experience, travel – these are an education in themselves.

Just for fun – Maria Callas:

For reflection:

This week on your peaceful walk, please let your imagination run free.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great!

Quote: I only know “this piece of life.” Why not make it creative, imaginative, and exciting? 









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