By Shelley Berc
When Life is Uncertain Our Imagination Can Make the Unknown the Great Adventure of Our Lives
Supposing you go for your yearly physical and the doctor says: “if you don’t exercise on a regular basis, your chances of having coronary problems are high.” You would probably head straight to the gym” (at least for a week or two).
What if someone, (maybe even yourself) told you: “if you don’t exercise your creativity and imagination, your spirit will get sick.” Would you start working those ‘muscles’ on a regular basis? Most of us would put it on the backburner for ‘when we have more time.’ Which never happens.
Just think about racing through life without ever registering the beauty of flowers in bloom or the sharp smells of autumn? What if you couldn’t taste food anymore or even imagine the taste of food? What if you never fantasized what it would be like to have a completely different life?
For many of us, the life described above would be dull, frustrating, and accompanied by the sense that something vital was missing.
When we exercise what I like to call: ‘the magic what if” of our imagination, all our senses come alive. We feel focused, optimistic and motivated. We feel that we have the resources to make things happen. That belief can set us on the beginning of wonderful lifetime journey that is the essence of the creative life.
In the world we live in we don’t get much encouragement to express our creativity, unless of course it makes us a lot of money. We are supposed to be consumers of creativity rather than creators ourselves. This is the mandate of an economic model that prefers you to consume rather than produce. After all, how are companies supposed to make money, if you are too busy creating yourself to buy their stuff? The underlying and terribly destructive message is that if we are not stamped with the seal of approval by corporations, critics, or Likes on Face Book we have no business creating at all.
To make our spirits thrive, we have to throw out the received notion that creativity is for the chosen few. We must establish the belief and the practice that we all have the ability and the right to be creative. For many of us it is not only a right, but a necessity of survival. We don’t have to leave the creative experience to innovative scientists, famous writers, dazzling movie stars. Each one of us is capable of gems of imagination and creative activity. These attributes are part of our evolutionary success: being creative means we can meet the challenge of the unknown and unexpected. This gives us a better chance to survive in an uncertain world.
Our creative manifestations don’t have to be grandiose; they can be simple and playful and still fulfill our ravenous appetite for curiosity and exploration. I bring up the issues of simplicity and play because we often undervalue things that are easy and fun for us to do. Our usual logic is: Only hard things are valuable. If it is easy and fun then it isn’t worth anything. Not true at all—sometimes things being easy for us just means that we have a natural connection, a gift for it that most people do not.
Doing creative work that comes naturally to you is an efficient means of getting your imagination up and running. It helps us gain confidence in our creativity and feeds our desire to engage it more seriously because we are working in a territory that ‘sings’ to us.
If gardening excites you, garden. If you are a lover of words, write. If it is singing, then by all means, sing your heart out.
When you are comfortable with the medium and the materials, you will put up with the heartache and frustration inherent in the process of any creative act. You will also be preparing yourself to do inspiring work that pushes you out of your comfort zone into the wild blue horizons of undiscovered imaginative possibilities lurking inside you.
If creative work is work at all, then it is playful work. Play is one of the most powerful tools for us humans to learn to think differently. It is one of the most valuable resources we have for making any new discoveries, in fields as diverse as psychology, technology, and art.
Our creativity brings us a message from within that insists we tend to our vision. Like a good detective, we must tenaciously follow the clues of our imagination and we can bring that vision, that Magic What If, to life.