I can stand in an open field and see the house complete: the walls, the color on the walls, the dishes on the shelf, the dark wooden table in the kitchen with grey whitewashed chairs and a champagne-colored chandelier with delicate bronze eucalyptus leaves. That’s imagination. Its a function of the mind, a tool, a gift. I’m not sure how much one can train themselves into it, but I know that there is much about our world that tries to train us out of it.
Thankfully there are places and people that still encourage it.
Do I make things up with my imagination? Absolutely! Like your home, or a city park, or a logo. For years design clients watched me close my eyes and then open them, saying, ‘here’s what we’re going to do!’ In my mind I saw the structure built, the wall opened, or the right rug. As a writer I imagine characters whom I hope many of you will meet one day. As any writer will tell you, characters once imagined take on a life of their own and become quite real in some ways. My characters speak to me, out of nowhere—or interrupt—in the most unusual ways. Should I write that character down, does she becomes real. Yes? No?
Imagination is the driving force behind the creation of things that are real and not real. Isn’t that a fluid line? I can confidently say that Harry Potter and Lord Farquaad are characters. They aren’t real. But the book is real, the movie is real, and the effect that has on me is real. I have characters who demand to be created and will not be quiet. They have something to say. And something about that is very real.
We as human beings can hopefully, or supposedly, tell the difference between an imagination or vision and reality. But are they not connected? And in limiting one, do we limit the other? All that humans have made is first inspired and imagined.
Intuition, similar in many ways to imagination, offers a similar experience. More often than not the intuition I have about two strangers turns out to be entirely accurate. It’s one thing to intuit that someone will have a good day. It’s another to intuit the exact location of something very specific.
So where do imagination and intuition come from? I’ve grappled with that question my entire life, possessing a heightened level of both.
Then there’s the third ‘I’: inspiration.
Imagination, intuition, and inspiration. These are the three “I’s” that spirit refers to as the 3rd eye. They are faculties of the mind, given by God, and God depends on you to attend to these in order for Him to communicate with you. If you don’t attend to them, you will not hear Him. Or them. It’s that simple. Meditation and prayer are our words for the practice of exercising these abilities.
By definition, inspiration means information or ideas from the divine. That’s my definition of inspiration, and it’s been my experience. I believe that the ideas and information I get, however that occurs, are given to me. But given to me by what? Unseen forces in the supernatural realm? Angels, demons, God, the Holy Spirit? And just like that, were out in the universe, looking at the biggest questions.
I spent many years saying ‘God, the Universe, Whatever.’ That’s because I wanted to fit in. It doesn’t get much more inclusive than that. I don’t say that anymore. God is. God is inclusive. It doesn’t get anymore inclusive than all that is. But each of us must grapple with what all this is, and why, and how. Imagination, intuition, inspiration, in my mind, all come from the same source. I find it impossible to understand the mechanics of all that. I just say thank you.
Culture uses the word imagination glibly: ‘I feel so inspired to go to the gym today!” What exactly inspired you to do that? All of it is supernatural, a sourcing from without oneself. Something has put you in a different frame of mind such that you are motivated to achieve beyond yourself, or your circumstances. We say we are intuitive. Yes, you have the senses to perceive that which cannot be seen. We can imagine beautiful things, and then make them happen.
My intuition—my individual and unique connection to spirit—tells me things that turn out to be true. On the regular. My imagination—which I consider to be my mind’s muscle and like any muscle, it must be exercised, or it will turn flaccid—presents me with things that turn out to be real, like your house, or a restaurant. My inspiration—the moments I consider to be inspired—come from something outside of me. The experience of opening your mind and suddenly having the answer. Or being able to paint something you have no idea how to paint. In order to live an inspired life, the very definition requires a belief in the divine.
The question is, has my wildly imaginative mind made up a God that isn’t real, or has my hyper-active imagination ferried an experience of a God that is?
What is the difference between imagination and make believe when so much of what I imagine becomes reality?
What are your thoughts on intuition and imagination? Have you ever felt inspired? What is your explanation for that?