Slapped: "You have an Overactive Imagination"

“You have an overactive imagination.”

This is a judgment people with less imagination slap onto those with more imagination—usually adults to children. Here is what these adults are really saying: "I don’t understand your imagination. I can’t contain it. Having so much imagination isn't normal. So STOP! Squash your imagination. Turn it off. Because it FRIGHTENS me."

In our over-rational world, an abundant imagination is not only considered to be of little value, but also considered to be dangerous.

Children hearing such messages can become frightened of their own imaginations. This fills me with sadness, and a sense of waste. We think the problems of our world will be solved solely by technology. By the exercise of our rational minds. Look around! Can you honestly say that our single-minded reliance on one function of our brain hasn’t led us to the brink of social and ecological disaster?

We need imagination so desperately now. We need it in abundance, streaming out from us like stars to create paths forward we cannot yet see. We need to encourage imagination, not only in children, but in everyone. So turn on imagination everywhere you find it. Fan it into a flame.

But the most important thing we need to do is look into ourselves and ask: Why does imagination frighten me? Why do the imaginations of children frighten me? And more pointedly, how does my own imagination frighten me?

Then we will have a place to begin.