Imagination: The Infinite Playground

It is in these infinite playgrounds that we play with the powers of the soul.

Posted Oct 04, 2017

I’m imagining you reading this, or maybe having it read to you, or both. And I imagine you as a playful soul, always open to the possibility of even a bigger playground, even more amazing things to play with. 

Those most infinite of all playgrounds, as well as the most infinite of playthings, are playgrounds and playthings of imagination, itself. Imaginary playgrounds. Imaginary playthings.

So I decided to imagine you. And then write this whole thing as if it were written only for you, my imagined you. And maybe, from time to time, imagine us writing it together.

Really. Together.

Let me explain:

Let’s pretend that maybe there is no difference, no distance between what you read and what I write. And despite the delight, the brilliance, the sheer magnitude of what I find words for—you also are also finding words for. You assemble these words together, imagine them into being, make them make sense, vision, sound. You give them voice, even.

So, really, we are the writers of this article. As you read it, you write it. It becomes yours. You put the words together into a vision. It is your book, too.

May we both learn from it. May we both find delight and meaning and deep, deep fun.

And let’s build marvels of fun in our imaginary playgrounds—so marvelous and so marvelously powerful that, though they don’t rely on any tool or object or anything we think of as “real,” they can become part of reality, they can change reality.

It is in these infinite playgrounds, in the very nature of infinite playthings, in the things we make up, pretend, imagine; that we play with the powers of the soul. We can pretend that we, ourselves, are infinite, both individually and collectively, infinitely.

Because, as you know so well, we playful beings have a lot of different playgrounds. Give us a bunch of marbles, packaged or pretend, and we create a marble-ous playground where everything is a target or a ramp or a tunnel—something to roll over or under or through or into. Give us an imaginary whistle (I mean the best imaginary whistle we can imagine) and everything is about how long and how loud and how many different ways we can make it sound. Better yet, give everybody a whistle. And an imaginary playground for sound, played on the ultimate instrument of our imaginary voice.

Every toy, by its very toy-ness, a door to yet another playground. We grownups call these playgrounds “hobbies.” We professional grown-ups call them work. We whittle. We carve. We sculpt. And each opens its own world that exists for us only as long as we keep whittling and carving, blowing and rolling, working and making. As soon as we stop playing, as we must eventually do, the play becomes finite, formed, fixed, a “work.”

All these playgrounds, even the one this article is in, involve what we call “imagination.”

Imagination is “the infinite playground.”

The power of imagination makes us infinite.

-John Muir

About the Author

Bernard De Koven is the author of The Well-Played Game. He writes on theories of fun and playfulness and how they affect personal, interpersonal, community and institutional health.

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