Friday, August 9, 2013

Imagination - Use It Or Lose It

One thing we geezers did as kids was to use our imaginations. Guess what? It was a great way to prevent early dementia. Studies have recently identified Digital Dementia (DD) as a disease caused by overuse of digital technology during childhood, preventing development of the right brain. This leads to cognitive disabilities which are associated with early onset dementia. DD is a significant problem in South Korea, home of the largest population of Internet users … and a lot of digital gadgets.

Before the microchip age, we geezers were often left with only our imaginations for entertainment. Oh, we found things lying around us to help, but we could entertain ourselves without some gadget glued to our ear.

That leads me to a story about using imagination in a creative way. The father of two guys my buddy and I knew owned the largest second-hand store in Southern Oregon. When he tossed out an old refrigerator for scrap, we scavenged the compressor, powered it with an old lawnmower motor we found, attached a 100-foot garden hose and made a diving suit. We did have to borrow a cutting torch, a 5-gallon bucket, and some various WWII surplus items to complete our design. But, in a single afternoon, we had the compressor jetting air down into the top of the bucket which had been cut to fit over a boy’s shoulders, held on by rubber straps, and fitted with a Plexiglas plate for visibility.

When we went to the river to test our invention, I figured my buddy would wade out and do some preliminary testing in seven feet of water. We had planned for the air pressure from the compressor to fill the entire bucket with air, pushing the water level down to the diver’s neck, so he could breathe. But wearing an old ammunition belt filled with lead weights, my friend walked out onto a dam and jumped into 25 feet of water.

I dove in after him to see how he was faring. When I swam close and peered through the Plexiglas window, the water level was right at his eyebrows. He tilted his head back, but couldn't get his nostrils or mouth above the water line. Our design had a few little problems.

To draw this story to some satisfactory end, he didn't drown. He used his imagination. We both survived our childhood and, well into geezerhood, we’re both still doing brain-straining work.

If you need a little more incentive to use your imagination, try listening to this oldie song on YouTube, called Imagination. It’s done by the Quotations. I think Paul Simon had the same idea in mind when he wrote Kodachrome.

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing. He is a published author with 8 books under his belt.


Claude Nougat said...

Wow, he jumped into 25 feet of water, scary...and typical of youngsters too, you must have been quite a headache for your Mom!

Thanks for sharing, great post and I hadn't heard about digital dementia, though I'm not surprised. If I spend too much time on my computer, I go cross-eyed!!!

Ed Crumley said...

Reminds me of the time my friend Hugh and I built a wooden raft supported by a large tractor tire tube with a stabilizing front pontoon tied to a smaller tire tube.

An immediate capsize at the initial launching quickly sent us back to the drawing board to include a rear pontoon before we could safely cruise Turtle Creek.

H L Wegley said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Ed! Part of my story I omitted, was that my buddy wore a WWII ammo belt with 50 lbs of lead stuffed into it. It wouldn't come off, so he slipped out of the helmet and fought for the surface, barely got his head above water to get one small breath, then collapsed to the bottom. By repeatedly going up and down, he pogo-sticked himself into shallow water, where he collapsed with the dry heaves. We gave up on the whole idea at that point.

H. Kirk Rainer said...

Good story (as I hold that this "age" can rob us of imagination among other qualiities).

H L Wegley said...

I imagine that it's hard to imagine anything when you can't remember what you were just imagining. At my stage of geezerhood, I take a hefty dose of ginkgo every morning and pray for the best. As writers, we need imagination. It's like Photoshop for the pictures in your mind. :)

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

That is a wonderful, crazy story! Lucky he lived. Lucky we all lived. We made skateboards before they were in vogue and rocketed down hills, the skates nailed to the bottom of a plank.

H L Wegley said...

Being able to buy potassium nitrate at the drug store was pretty cool too. They even sold it to kids as late as the 60's. It made great rocket fuel if you got the right balance between it and the sugar. But with our limited understanding of aerodynamics, we got singed a few times by out-of-control rockets.

Caroline said...

Harry, I had to laugh w/delight at your post! So typical of boys, and girls, too. What fun kids can invent when they're given the chance and encouraged to do so! I'm always worried about my oldest grandson who is so totally into video games. :(

Loved your post.

H L Wegley said...

Caroline, It's sad to see video games and gadgets taking such a toll on our grandkids. When we take them to the park, they don't have the strength and agility to play on some of the playground equipment. Even our tweenage grandkids tire before my wife and I when we take them on walks. I could go on, but this was supposed to be a fun post, not a rant.

David said...

H.L. I don't see the rant at all. I read that many others see the lack of ideas and creativity in some of our youth. The internet is a wonderful thing and a great research tool for us writers, but as you said, we all have to avoid falling into the DD hole that we may not have the mental or physical strength to climb out of.
Nice post.