It’s Just Your Imagination!

imagination, writing, thinkingFlash!

Scientists are trying to understand the creative brain.

Hmmm, some people in my family have been trying to understand my brain for decades. My dad used to shake his head at me and intone, “It’s just your imagination, Pammy.”

He never knew how angry that statement made me. What did he mean, JUST my imagination? Did that mean it didn’t count?

But now, wonderfully, neuroscientists and psychologists are claiming that “imagination is the cornerstone of creativity.”

Unfortunately, back when I was growing up in the “olden” days, creativity wasn’t so highly touted. But now a neuroscientist and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute of the University of Southern California says, “having original ideas is a process, not a place (within the brain).”

The implication is that it takes a lot of brain to pull off imagination and creativity.dragons, imagination, creativity, writing

So my capability to see tiny, dragon-like lizards on top of maple trees that suddenly glow purple, is not “just” my imagination.

It’s genius!

Researchers are now determining that imagination is only possible with the use of (1) memory (yes, it’s good news that you remember the smell of your 7th grade science teacher’s hair spray) and (2) emotions.

Carousel, Shirley Jones, Gordon McRae, imagination, emotion

Falling in love, in “Carousel.”

Here’s one of my good (emotional) memories: my brother sneaks down to the basement where I’m watching an old movie on TV – “Carousel” with Shirley Jones, in which the love of her life is killed. Little brother taunts me because I’m sobbing at the end, but my dad defends me, saying, “The world would be a better place if all people had the imagination to feel other people’s pain and joy.”

Which brings me to another point researchers are discovering. Some people are inherently more creative and imaginative than others.

I always knew that. Now, perhaps others will view creativity and imagination as immensely special and as a talent to strive for, not ignore.

In fact, a Harvard University researcher noted: “the brain is a creativity machine. You just need to know how to manipulate your software to make it work.”

whale, imagination


Yes, that’s what I do at 5:30 a.m. when I gently wake up, neurons firing, the vivid dream world slowly fading away as I locate Geminia and Frederica, my two soul soothers/imaginators who sit invisibly within my eardrums.

“Did you notice the large whale swimming in the Bay this morning?” Geminia whispers as I begin my early morning walk.

seal, sealife, imagination, San Francisco BayI see a hiccup of a splash in the middle of the bay, and then a seal slaps up, barking an explanation: “That’s Hector. He gets lost all the time. He’s supposed to be in Hawaii by now!”

Ah, Pammy, there’s your imagination again….

31 thoughts on “It’s Just Your Imagination!

  1. I love the creativity and imagination of children before we try and make them fit into the box! The institutions that are there to “teach” us are guilty of taking young, original thinking minds and try to “mold” them to “see” things the “right” way…..I am so happy you still see dragons on top of trees, Pam!


    • Fortunately, they’re friendly dragons.
      And I totally agree with you about how we teach our children to color within the lines, instead of reaching outside the box. I read somewhere that to be really creative and open to possibilities, we must get in touch with the child we used to be. So many of us forget that young version of ourselves, who saw so much more than we adults do.


  2. AWW…LOVE this post! I try to be creative more than I used to. I get in these “creative moods” I need to MAKE something! Work on a puzzle, draw a picture, crochet a new afghan, paint in my journal..SOMETHING! And I have a weird memory. I remember dates, numbers, the smell of the hallway in my first year of school or the VO5 brill cream my grandpa used in his hair and the lyrics to every song from 1969 to 1990. Don’t ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday though! HA HA! I steer clear of movies I KNOW will make me cry. I cry very, very easily. I am a novice actor but emotions are my strong suit. I can conjure up any emotion fit for a scene. Imagination/creativity is the life blood of the brain and keeps us going. My grandmother passed away in Nov at 98. She was crocheting, sewing, doing crossword puzzles and physically working around her house until her dementia finally got the best of her at about 96. She was the best! Love your imagination!! Rock on~


    • Well, for one, I’d say that your grandmother lives on in you. How lucky you are! And secondly, I think you would be VERY fun to hang out with – I’d ask you to sing so many of my favorite songs! Thirdly, yes, it’s a bit embarrassing when I cry at a commercial, for heaven’s sake. I don’t think we should go to a movie together!
      P.S. I really like your quote, “Imagination/creativity is the lifeblood of the brain.” Hear, hear!


      • I get my warped sense of humor from my grandmother for sure! I had to make sure I never talked to her while I was driving because she would always say something that made me laugh so hard I nearly drove off the road!
        I cry at commercials too!! OMG! I am so glad I am not the only one……LOL!
        We could go see a comedy! That would be fun! 🙂


  3. So, wait, creativity exists at 5:30 am?

    I consider myself a relative creative fellow, but what I wouldn’t give to hang out inside my son’s head for a few hours. His head is the latest incarnation of the iPhone; my noodle still has a rotary dial.


  4. Hey! Your seals are in YOUR imagination! They can talk “human” aaaanny time they want to! LOL! and if there is such a thang as imaginative hour, MINE is after 10am! ha ha ha! Coffee anyone??? *giggle*


  5. This post really speaks to me. I remember a few years ago, when I was getting fed up with people being so boring and negative and saying ‘good idea, but…’ to everything I came up with to make things a little more fun and meaningful…I drew my own picture of the Einstein quote, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’ and i made the letters in imagination ‘things’ so the ‘I’ was a tree and the ‘m’ was a double rainbow and the ‘a’ was a snail etc etc…I gave it as a gift to an eight year old neighbor who saw it and liked it when he visited our house. There is NOTHING more important than imagination, and never more so than now…not just for fun (though that too of course…) but also to get ourselves out of this mess the world’s in. We have all the knowledge and technology, but we’re getting nowhere because we’re still colouring inside the lines and from fear and attachment to the known and ‘comfortable’, even if it’s….anyway. oh, I could say so much lore – thanks Pam, loved this piece:-) Long live mini purple dragons!!!!!


    • See? Even Einstein agrees with us! (Thanks for passing on his quote.) And thank YOU for responding so passionately to this post. Because I feel exactly as you do. If all of us used our imagination more, the world would be a much, much better place.


  6. I love all the brain studies. I don’t think scientists will every figure it all out. But I do enjoy an imagination. And I think imagination is what makes for good writing! Also, a lot of good movies.


    • (Scientists will never figure it all out) because, sorry to the ‘realists’ and pragmatists, science doesn’t conjure up enough imagination! We need to let go of the lines and scribble a bit more!!


  7. Oh wow, Ms. Pam, you’ve started my imagination and memory going in six directions at once. First, I think imagination is a Portal to the Great Mystery. That miracles can happen when we “dream” into the abyss with our feelings. However, since I can’t logically explain this, I shall back out of this comment and say, second, that I agree with everything you said here. Simply everything. And that’s not your imagination–although it may be! 🙂


    • I’m going to say that realistically and imaginatively, you agree with the brain scientists, and with me, that imagination is the “portal to the great mystery,’ (what a GREAT quote you imagined up!!!).


  8. Wonderful. I love this post. I used to consider myself imaginative, but the events of recent years have dulled my mind. I hope with time and practice I will be able to dust myself back off.


  9. I like your post. Rolling Stones song of same title (their cover of the Temptations) now stuck in my mind, however. Good thing I like the tune.


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