By Ray Petersen — Aablo Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” An artist, of whom we can all share the joy of colour and clarity, also left us confused as to what he was trying to say in his art. However, he saw himself as a “receptacle for emotions”, the emotions not only of the people around him, but of everything, from spider’s webs to stars. So not only did he thrive on the shapes, patterns, colours and the beauty around him, but the emotion of those visions.
While renowned for his colour, and his unusual shapes and representations, Picasso expressed himself through the eyes. The eyes were always different from each other, and open, and you are always forced to ask questions, such as “what does it mean? Where are they looking? What are they seeing?” And, “What are they windows to, if the eyes are windows to the soul?” Picasso revelled in the confusion of the eyes, and particularly when he exhorted us to close our eyes and let our imaginations sing.
I’ve grown to love the whimsical nature of Picasso’s art, and I see the eyes as inviting us to contribute to the art, by seeing what we can, in the eyes, unleashing our imaginations. He commented on the futility of people like me trying to understand art, saying, “People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.” So don’t try to understand your past, but imagine your future! It’s much more fun.
Even unhappy people can benefit from their imagination, and even though it has been said that reality is for those without imagination, the despair of an unhappy situation can force us to use our imaginations. Mohed Altrad, the billionaire, Syrian-born French businessman, credits his success to his triumph over adversity.
His mother died in childbirth, and his father gave him away at four years of age, but he credits his imagination to always being able to visualise a better future, and in that, he found his niche, in the cement and scaffolding sector of the construction industry, and was named the 2015 European ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’.
A fertile imagination is not only a necessity for those involved in the arts, but has a role in allowing us to interact with our children better, and get the most out of our playtime. It can turn us into creative professionals, able to find solutions that were not even on someone else’s radar.
The ability to be imaginative, and to activate our imaginations, is actually an intensely valuable life skill that we can all benefit from enormously.
Here we are, enormously gifted, with this power of imagination, and so many of us do not use it. We take it for granted that we have it, and yet we spend so much of our lives berating ourselves for missed opportunities, mistakes we have made, or what could or should have been. Too many of us view challenges, only within the parameters of what’s gone before, when we have the ability to do so much more.
In retrospect, in fact, nothing will change, but we can have a significant effect on the future. We have the power. We can bring to mind alternative situations, influences and hypothesise about what has never been a reality, but has the potential to be.
Apple founder Steve Jobs said something along the lines that geniuses sometimes feel guilty, because all they did was see a possibility through connecting experiences to arrive at an, for them, obvious conclusion. Others had done the work, but the genius was able to synthesise the process, making it a reality.
In real life, imagination does work, just ask Walt Disney. He said that they were continuously led by their curiosity, which leads them down new paths, and the question on everybody’s lips is not, “Why can’t we?” But rather, “How can we?” It’s a philosophy carried on by a working group in the huge Disney conglomerate called the ‘Imagineers,’ whose motto is, “We make the magic.”
Even the icon of science, Albert Einstein, said of logic, it would take us from point A to point B without fail, while imagination can take us on a million greater journeys. He even saw himself as an artist who could draw from his imagination of necessity, as knowledge was limited, while imagination is not.
Bernard Shaw, too wrote, “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”
In doing so, he instructs us all to dally a little, to let our inner self take flight, to enact our inner ‘Peter Pan,’ as Mozart did when he was, completely himself, “entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.” Our imaginations are not something to be, saved for later. If you don’t use them, like anything, they will forget how to work. Have fun channelling your whimsy, fancy, fantasy, creativity, enterprise, your creativity and your wit. Unleash your imagination.