I really want to write about imagery but since we are focusing on verbs and action this Epiphany season, I elected a verb form of the word family. Then I realized that that word “imagine” was really want I wanted to discuss.
There are purportedly seven major types of imagery, each corresponding to a sense, feeling, or action. These include visual imagery which pertains to graphics, visual scenes, pictures, or the sense of sight. Then there is auditory imagery, a form of mental imagery that is used to organize and analyze sounds when there is no external auditory stimulus present. This form of imagery is broken up into a couple of auditory modalities such as verbal imagery or musical imagery. It also includes the imagery of onomatopoeia, using sounds or words about sounds to evoke images of such things that create those noises. Olfactory imagery pertains to odors, scents, or the sense of smell and the less known gustatory imagery pertains to flavors or the sense of taste. Tactile imagery pertains to physical textures or the sense of touch while the lesser known kinesthetic imagery pertains to movements or the sense of bodily motion.
Finally there is organic imagery or subjective imagery which pertains to personal experiences of a character’s body, including emotion and the senses of hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain. It is this last type of imagery that often poses the greatest threat to us because it can also raise an awareness of fear. Recently, over the past eighteen months, this type of imagery has been most prevalent worldwide. Fear is defined by the website and magazine Psychology Today as “a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.”
Laughter is also a response. Psychology Today says this about laughter: “Laughter just might be the most contagious of all emotional experiences. What’s more, it is a full-on collaboration between mind and body. Although laughter is one of the distinguishing features of human beings, little is known about the mechanisms behind it. Scientists do know that laughter is a highly sophisticated social signaling system, helping people bond and even negotiate. Interestingly, most social laughter does not result from any obvious joke.” Laughter is also beneficial, as is fear. Laughter “has numerous health benefits: It releases tension, lowers anxiety, boosts the immune system, and aids circulation.”
So today I am asking you to imagine both fear and laughter. Both are vital responses necessary to the human condition and yet, while they seem very far apart, both serve essential functions. Carl Sagan, though, reminds us to be certain of that which we consider fearful as well as that which makes us laugh. “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
In other words, just because we laugh does not mean something is great. While Columbus, Fulton, and the Wright Brothers proved themselves to be correct, the laughter they received had little to do with their success. Their actions were backed by just that – real action.
We need to make sure that those things which create fear are also real. Recent news stories have been built upon fiction, not fact. Certainly there is shame to be heaped upon those who fabricate such false stories, attempting to engage our imaginations and create fear, but there is also shame on those who readily accept such rather than taking a few moments to fully imagine what might be truth.
What if we stopped trying to create fear and simply lived today in the best possible way we could, not worrying or being fearful… just being as productive as possible? Imagine that, as John Lennon did, please. “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try – no hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today. Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for and no religion too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one. Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can; no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.