Never, ever lose our sense of imagination
There are so many ways to die.
Our sack of bones and tissues are easily smushed by any number of physically stronger forces. And, presumably, that’s the end.
For some, the threat of irrelevance seems a pretty crushing blow.
More devastating, perhaps, has always been, for me, the loss of imagination. To not be inspired beyond the immediate backdrop of one’s life and its possibilities essentially signals a certain complacency with, a surrender to, the results of a power structure comprised largely by those who feared irrelevance. In other words, to agree to a landscape designed, overwhelmingly, by the living dead.
Without imagination, what is there but the triumph of corruption?
To be unable to escape a current reality with a vision of something else, something more, do we not, at that point, cease to exist as individuals? If we do not make our own spaces? If we simply ruminate within the boxes constructed by negotiations other people had. Compromises other people made. When we weren’t there.
If we do not make our own spaces, and guard them meaningfully, will our souls not be the dear, alligators, raccoons foraging for food in their own territories, the forests and swamps converted quietly and relentlessly, before their eyes, into the enclaves of homes built by others, for others? Will we not be hushed and persecuted and disappeared by the new inhabitants trying to enjoy their peaceful occupation undisturbed?
If we allow our imagination to be held hostage by the thieves called subsistence, endurance, success, in the current modes of measurements and benchmarks of these concepts, are we not merely sitting in a hot car on a hot day with the windows sealed? Do we not, at some point, wilt? Do we not, at some point, die?
Is there something so frightful about imagination? Why else would we bury it below our piles of wretched tasks and priorities? Why else would we honor the prophets of the past but fear and marginalize the ones in front of us? Is it just so much easier, so much safer, so much less work to agree to die? Avoid confrontation, avoid ourselves, be grateful for a half life and agree to sit there, and as an outcome, let our very life-forces melt into the upholstery in the breathless, searing, suffocating heat?
How do we, even so weary, crack those windows open, breathe again and stay alive?
There is a 17-month old boy I’m quite fond of. He walks, he runs, he investigates, he plays. He smiles, he laughs, he “reads” voraciously, he even dances a bit. And sometimes, in all his gusto, he falls. After a fall, he’ll pause in a moment of silence, but not more than a moment, before he utters “boom!” and then picks himself up and carries on with previously conceived glorious gusto.
Now, what? Cry? Stop smiling, laughing, interrogating, investigating, wondering? Those questions do not seem to even enter his mind. And why would they? He’s alive.
Keep living. Keep imagining something better, with every new lesson we’ve learned informing our moral compass. Keep trusting, keep feeding our ever expanding sense of imagination of what can be.
When presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a packed house in the Town Hall near Times Square, as he spoke of the tragedies facing Americans – homelessness, polluted water, violence and incarceration – to “never, ever lose your sense of outrage,” he was right.
Bernie was right. But the message was not complete. Outrage without imagination is a path toward disillusionment. If outrage wakes us up, imagination can carry us forward.
Let us not ever lose our sense of imagination.