An hour before dawn this morning, as my brain rose to semi-consciousness the day after the cyberknife (radiosurgery) finished killing the Melanoma cells in my brain, I noticed that my imagination was the first thing to come back on line. Images of people I’d never met before, words never heard before, thoughts I’d never thought before—and I said to myself, “Yea! I have my brain back! And look at what it’s doing! It’s playing.”
These silly thoughts came on the heels my first dream in a month, and what was the content? New stuff. Imagination. As I lay in bed half-asleep, the contents of my thoughts were all playful, new inventions.
Later, as I walked down Chestnut Street near our home in San Francisco, another obviousness came to mind. Almost everything I was looking at had existed in some human’s imagination before it came into being—the colors of the dawn sky providing the background were the only exception. For health—mental, physical and all—this imagination is essential for the preservation and the furthering of successful life on the planet—and mine, too.
We tend to think that the contents of our brains are some amalgamation and summary of all our experiences given and received of our lives, that our cerebral cortex, which has mapped so thoughtfully and rigorously every image and experience, that our prefrontal cortex and limbic system which adds meaning so that we “understand” these experiences in ways that help us make decisions,… we tend to think that this is who we are. But there is one more thing: Imagination. We are designed to take all that stuff (36 million seconds of it each year)—and make something new out of it—every day.
Mark Twain famously said about New England, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute. To this I would add: Yes, wait a minute—wait a minute for anything that needs changing. Dip into that fertile brain of yours and come up with something new—something not even you have ever thought of before. Be new every minute of every day. Don’t say the same old thing you always say. Surprise someone with a new line. Open Eyes. Open Heart–no wait. Open Imagination.