Monday, December 6, 2010

The Unlikely Crisis of Imagination

Hi, my name is Julie and I am a daydreamer. Night dreamer. Driving dreamer. Doing dishes dreamer. All my life stories have played out in my mind no matter what else I am doing (or supposed to be doing). If I were to ever meet Darth Vader, I think he would say, “Imagination is strong with this one.” And he’d sound exactly like James Earl Jones (or Mufasa) and I’d swoon. So, it comes as a surprise that I am suffering a crisis of imagination... and not in fiction. In my writing, I sit down every day and poof, stories are at the ready, sometimes even crowding around in a very noisy queue (yes, there’s often some grumbling, squirming, and all out shouting for me to move the stories along faster). So, the writing is fine; it’s life where my imagination is struggling.

I’ve heard for a long time that if you want to make changes in your life, you have to think about what you want and imagine what the change in your life will look like. It makes sense to me. I can imagine what my novels will look like on a bookstore shelf. I can imagine the fitness level to which I aspire. I can imagine what I will be like when I take more time to get centered. And I can certainly imagine what I want my house to look like when I am more organized. Where I fail is imagining scenarios that involve other people’s actions or even depend upon other people.

I’m not sure if this is a new struggle or an old one. In some ways, new growth might have worsened the problem because as I’ve taken on the challenge of decreasing my expectations (since having expectations leads to a lot of misery), I am now in a place where I can’t even imagine some of the changes I wish to see in my personal life. And my abilities in adaptation don’t help at all with this either. I’m resilient. I’m happy (for the most part). And I accept my life without the things I don’t or can’t have. So, how do I imagine things that I’ve accepted being without, without taking on the side effects (expectations that will let me down, hope that may not be fulfilled, or the propensity to wallow about the things I don’t have)? In the past, the wanting for the things I don’t have has blinded me to the gratitude I should feel for the things I do have. But even with that, how can I expect to invite change if I can’t even visualize what that change looks like?

I have to say, this crisis of imagination has taken me by surprise and is very uncomfortable. When I sit down and exercise my quiet space, when I reach in my mind for what is imaginary and come up empty, I feel like a bird tethered to the earth by a chain that I wrought. I don’t like it. It’s a hollowing blight on the sense of connection I feel when I’m truly centered and connected to everything and everyone that ever was or will be.

So, it’s time for a plan. A little imagination rehabilitation.

My assignment: Imagination Spark Plugs.

When the engine of my imagination is churning more than sparking, it’s time to use fiction to make the connection. So, my mission is to do what I normally work very hard to avoid: putting myself into my writing. This is a writing exercise, not anything that will ever see the light of day (and I’m certainly not going to do any editing). I’m just going to create scenarios about me and the changes I want to see in my life in the hopes that I will one day be able not only to imagine the changes (in my mind) but to see some variation actually appear in my life.

We’ll have to see how that goes, but I have to say I’m a little excited to see what I come up with and I’m a little nervous about writing something without fantasy elements (since me with fairy wings really isn’t helpful for this particular project). :)

Quote for the Day from William Drayton

“Change starts when someone sees the next step.”


Kasie West said...

That sounds like an excellent solution to the problem. And yes, please keep your fantasy elements out of these particular assignments, I wouldn't want a dragon to accidentally devour you or anything of the sort.

The Golden Eagle said...

Good luck with your project! It sounds like a really good idea for figuring out the next way to go.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Writing, or any creative exercise, is often (okay, always) the way out of a psychic bind. Maybe I should take my own advice...

DL Hammons said...

I'm reminded of a quote from "The Matrix" movies. We can never see past the choices we don't understand. And I wonder if your imagination block stems from that in some way?

Your method of working past that sounds like a good one. Good luck!!

Elana Johnson said...

Ooh, good luck sans fantasy. I've tried it--and failed. But hey, everyone has to try something once, right?

Margo Berendsen said...

the Darth Vader/Mufasa voice can make me swoon too! Loved this post.