This I Believe- That the Force of Imagination is Important and Powerful

Imagination           Imagination II

Imagination is a mystical, iridescent substance that is borne within the minds of all children. There in our minds, that unique brand of imagination will exist for all time, and yet the more that one uses it, the more powerful and colorful it will become. The phenomenon of imagination extends from childhood wonder and terror, to some of the greatest feats of human achievement, to the infinite possibilities of the future.

From my elementary days well into middle school I was never quite comfortable unless I was spending time in a world that I created. I loved that I could set the rules, I loved that for once I was in charge. I had the power to decide how things happened, and the power to create any kinds of fantasies that I wanted. Living in my head during most of my days made me quiet and introverted, with only one real friend who was much the same way as I in terms of allowing her imagination to run away with her. During recess, we would play vivid pretend games- except that they didn’t feel like pretend; everything that the two of us created was very real to us both. And everything that I create nowadays, stemming from my vibrant imagination, is just as real as it used to be when I was in elementary school, daydreaming my way through math class or becoming somebody else for a day.

Imagination is the ability to see every path of the future at once, but more significantly, to see futures that at the current moment are impossible. Imagination is what drives us to achieve high, to examine those seemingly impossible futures and find ways to make them our new realities. The world-encompassing power of imagination directs human attention to things well beyond what we already know; facts and knowledge are limited to what we currently understand about the world, whereas imagination is anything but limited. It is the material from which the fabric of the future is woven; it embodies all possibilities and everything that we may create, ascertain, and discover.

But imagination and its irrefutable power has reached far beyond comforting children and inspiring works of art and beauty. Imagination is the condition that allows for the creative thinking of human beings, it is the basis from which all forms of innovation have stemmed. The world and its past as we know it has been heavily influenced by the almost magical power of imagination’s gifts of technology. Without imagination and the subsequent innovations of Phillip of Macedonia, would Alexander the Great ever have created his empire and conquered the whole known world? Without the creative, unexpected tactics dreamed up and carefully executed by Hannibal Barca, the Carthaginian general, would Carthage ever have been known as Rome’s greatest adversary? Without the spark of inventivity borne from imagination, would we have the wheel, the lightbulb, or the computer, all of which we take for granted today? What state of disrepair and decrepitude would human society be in if not for the progressive, transformative abilities of imagination?

Yet for all the good that it can do, imagination can be incredibly destructive if one allows it to be. As a worrier and an unwilling pessimist, I can certainly attest to the dangers of catastrophizing and allowing imagination to run constant scenarios through a mind. I understand how sorting through the multitude of things that could go wrong can drain a person. Imagination captures and holds people, both positively and negatively.

I remember in preschool and kindergarten having a cast of imaginary friends. One companion in particular, whom I had named Cissy, was my best friend by day and my tormentor by night. When light streamed through the windows and we revelled in the glory of daytime, we were friends and equals. In my dreams, however, she became a terrifying figure that represented everything that I was frightened of. In these reoccurring nightmares, Cissy would appear to me as a protector at first. She would take my hand and lead me through a landscape that I couldn’t see because of a black fog. And then she would disappear. Cissy left me alone in the dark, and before anything else had a hope of playing out, I would feel her icy fingers tickling my neck. And then her sweet voice would ring out, “Don’t tell anyone.” Every time that I awoke from that dream, I could still feel the tingling of her small, cold fingers on my neck. As a child, I never told anyone about these dreams; even when it was morning and Cissy reverted back to a harmless playmate, I heeded the order that she repeated in my nightmares.

For years I used to wonder why the monsters always came out at night, why everything that I scoffed at- or in the case of Cissy, was at peace with- during the day transformed into grotesque, dangerous versions of themselves as soon as darkness fell. When I was in the first grade, I asked my mother why monsters were only scary at night. She replied, “Because when it gets dark and we can’t see, our imaginations change. They become stronger because our sight becomes weaker.” Previously, I had always thought of imagination as being something wonderful, something to make me unique, and the beloved source for my outpour of writing, even then. But that day I became scared of what imagination might do to me. Eventually, though, I realized that I had power over what scenarios appeared in my head, and of what I imagined. Later that same year, I put away Cissy and ‘lost’ anything that reminded me of her, mostly blankets and trinkets that I had named after her.

I never dreamed of Cissy again. Every time that the branches of trees tapped against my window, or when it sounded like the wind was eerily whispering to me, or whenever the movement of shadows in my room made me think that a monster was coming for me, I tried to reinvent things in a way that wasn’t so scary. The tree branches tapping on my windows were really the fingertips of faeries, who wanted me to let them in. The wind’s whisperings turned out to be secret messages sent to me from a faraway land, in a language that only I could understand. And of course, the shadow belonged to Peter Pan, who would come to retrieve it soon. After being very difficult for a very long time, it suddenly became easy for me to control my imagination and create fantasies belonging only to me. And so the era of my elementary and middle school love for what I could dream up began.

Imagination has the power to torture, to create and to inspire. It is the purest example of beauty- dark or light- that I have been able to find. Imagination is fluid, it is organic. It leads the battle against the dull world of reality, seeking to transform banality into vibrancy. But that is not why imagination is beautiful. The beauty of imagination is that we can control every aspect of it, we can control what we create, and control how it shapes us. Unlike fact, imagination can be many things at the same time, and can also be everywhere at once. So I conclude with an expression of Albert Einstein’s undeniable wisdom, and with what happens to be one of my favorite quotes: “Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Truer words were never spoken.



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6 thoughts on “This I Believe- That the Force of Imagination is Important and Powerful

  1. Ziyana,
    I have to say, I was expecting excellence from you, and this just thoroughly impressed me. It is so interesting to see how your mind works, because even after knowing you for such a long time, until now, I never knew about Cissy or your nightmares. I like that you spoke about them with honesty, particularly when you came to the realization that imagination is not only a wonderful thing, and that it can create horrible things among the beautiful.

    I must also say that when you said, “. . . imagination can be many things at the same time, and can also be everywhere at once.” I found a deeper meaning in your words, for it sounded like you believed what you were talking about. It shows that you put great thought into this piece and I think that it paid off.

    1. Hope-

      First of all, I am so sorry that I am replying to your comment so late. It’s been a busy week! But thank you so much for all the wonderful things you said!
      I have had no problem being open about the good things about my imaginary friends (including Cissy, who I know you have heard of) but about the nightmares and the way I used to let Cissy control me… well, I never told anybody about that because even though I had grown out of her, some small part of me was still scared that if I acknowledged her old hold over me, the nightmares might return. After all those years, my childhood fears still touch my heart from time to time.
      I’m incredibly touched that you liked my piece so much, and I appreciate all that you’ve said. I’m really glad that you were able to connect to what I wrote and that you were able to find the deeper meanings within it.
      Thanks again for your kind words. 🙂
      Infinite Love and Gratitude,

  2. Ziyana,

    I have to say, I’m impressed with the amount of eloquence, foresight, and thought that went into this piece. I loved the fact that you wrote about something so personal for the rest of the class to see, and I applaud you on that. For someone who just arrived in AP, you do belong here. The flow of your sentences, and the constant switching between simple words to complicated ones went together beautifully. What I see in this piece is a style that is quickly fostering into something great.

    What I especially loved is your reference to history. All the information that you have given are very accurate, and true. Again, I applaud you on using the past to strengthen your belief. Great job, and keep on writing.


    1. Bryna-

      I am so sorry to be replying to your comment late; there’s been a ton of things going on this week.
      I am touched that a writer as brilliant and insightful as you would like my writing so much! I really appreciate everything you said- and I’d like to think that I belong in AP English too… reading that made my day.
      I did put a great deal of thought into writing this piece; there are so many different takes on imagination, but in the end, I chose to insert a personal story into my piece because even now, Cissy’s nightmares touch my heart with a tiny hint of fear. I have moved past it, and yet I can’t forget how scared they used to make me. So I decided that writing openly about Cissy and finally being honest with myself about what happened was long overdue.
      Thanks again for your wonderful comment, it honestly made me so happy to see that you had commented on what I wrote. 🙂
      Infinite Love and Gratitude,

  3. Ziyana,
    When I was a child, I had a highly active imagination as well, and my parents sometimes accused me of letting it overrun my real life, so I can relate to some of the experiences you’ve had. I also admire you for being able to open up about the fears you had, such as Cissy, I’m quite embarrassed about some of the phobias I had in my younger years.
    I also noticed how you made a few historical references (specfically from social studies class) and I have to agree with you that without the power of the imagnination–whether it be harmful or helpful–many great inventions may have never come to exist.

    1. Genevieve-
      I want to apologize for making you wait so long for a reply; I haven’t had a lot of time on my hands lately.
      I’m so glad that you were able to connect to what I wrote. My parents always said the same thing to me, about letting my imagination run away with me- although in retrospect, they may have been right considering the effect Cissy had on me. I would offer to you that those childhood phobias we have had were obviously terrifying at the time, but now that we have had the time to take a step back and observe them from a distance, I personally feel much safer revisiting them, especially in my writing. I would encourage you to write about those things that used to scare you, because having read your writing and knowing how brilliant you are, I think you could make from it a wonderful piece filled with truth and raw emotion.
      Thanks for reading my This I Believe, and thank you for your comment. I really, truly appreciate it. 🙂 Sorry again for not replying sooner.
      Infinite Love and Gratitude,

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