Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. Jonathan Swift
It sometimes seems that kids these days have lost touch with reality. They seem to be living in La-La Land, continually texting, tweeting and gaming. What good can possibly come from any of that, right?
Gamers to the Rescue
When you saw the words, “playing for a cure,” in the title of this post, did you think I was talking about a playathon to raise money for research? Maybe you imagined world-class athletes playing their chosen sports and donating large portions of their salaries to a good cause. Perhaps you thought I was talking about a famous band playing their music and contributing the proceeds from concert ticket sales to charity. Or, perhaps you thought I simply misspelled the word “praying.”
Believe it or not, I was actually referring to those seemingly disengaged people who spend much of their time playing games online. That’s right. The very same people who drive imaginary race cars and shoot at imaginary monsters in their basements can change the world for the better after all.
Case in point: Scientists have spent decades looking for better ways to destroy retroviruses, like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. To do that, they need to see the intricate structure of the proteins the viruses are made of. Needless to say, that’s not very easy. Even the most powerful microscopes don’t provide enough detail, and that’s where the gamers come in.
A few years ago, a professor at the University of Washington wanted to see if human intuition could do what science alone had been unable to do. He decided to create a game in which competing groups of gamers could actually use online tools to unfold chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
Earlier this year, people started playing the game. In three weeks, those gamers produced an accurate model of an enzyme, solving a mystery that scientists had been working on for over a decade. This achievement has opened the door to the possibility of a whole new generation of life-saving drugs.
Bring Your Vision to Life
So, what can we learn from this story? Maybe we should let our kids play games all day! No, that’s not it.
For me, gamers helping scientists discover a cure for AIDS is a lesson in bridging the gap between imagination and reality. Here are three things you can do to use the creative forces inside of you to change the world around you.
1. Cultivate a Vivid Imagination
Imagination is a skill that can be developed. When we were children, it came naturally to us. We pretended to be cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, or our dolls’ mommies. I don’t know about you, but I really got into it (I even played with dolls a couple of times). When my mom called me home for dinner and the realization hit me that play time was really over, it often felt like having cold water poured on my head while I was sleeping.
Do you remember what it was like to get lost in a daydream? Maybe you should revive your innate ability to dream in detail again. If you’re going to pretend, you might as well do it right, like you did when you were a kid. Take your time, and engage all of your senses.
When you walk along an imaginary beach, feel of the soft sand under your feet, smell the ocean and see the sun setting on the horizon. When you think of a loved one who lives far away, hear them laughing, feel their hand on your shoulder and watch them doing something they enjoy.
2. Dream of Doing Extraordinary Things
Always remember that a vivid imagination can hurt just as much as it can help. When you dream of doing harm, you have already done it. Your ability to imagine is powerful. It changes you long before it changes the world around you. Make sure that you use it for good.
One of the best ways you can use your imagination is to dream of doing things that really matter. You might think that your ability to make a difference is limited. After all, you’re only a Sunday School teacher, a part-time volunteer or a stay-at-home mom. What can an ordinary person like you possibly do to change the world?
Somewhere inside of you, there’s at least one very good answer to that question. Neither of us has time right now for me to tell you all the stories from off the top of my head about otherwise ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
You obviously don’t have to be a famous author, a brain surgeon or a corporate CEO to be a force for good in the world. Just imagine yourself becoming a more inspired version of the person you already are.
3. Make Your Dreams Come True
Dreams that never come true in any way may matter little more than the games we play for fun. To make them truly meaningful, you have to find a way to make them real. Once you have clearly imagined doing something great, the only thing left to do is to do it. Even a simple shift in attitude is a little dream come true.
Making your dreams come true doesn’t mean that everything has to turn out exactly as you envisioned it. It’s OK to adjust your dreams as you go. The key is to continually find ways to bring your vision to life. Whatever challenges you may face, you can always do something that more clearly reflects your brightest hopes.
What have you done lately to bring your vision to life?
How has your vision already changed the world around you?
For more about the gamers who helped scientists find a breakthrough, read the story at Yahoo News Canada – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/online-gamers-crack-aids-enzyme-puzzle-175427367.html