I have a most-vivid imagination. In a coaching exercise once, I was challenged to close my eyes and envision my “future self”… not just me as a human being, beyond that. What did my future self look like? What expression was on my future self’s face? Where is my future self? At home, in an office, on a beach? I was challenged to imagine what my life would visually look like. After getting over the initial woo-woo-ness of the exercise, the imagery started to appear. I was in a loft apartment, looking satisfied and confident, 10 years down the road, blahbedy blabedy blah. But… the ONE thing that stood out in the imaginary world of my future self was a giant, white, ceramic rhinoceros head on my wall. As soon as that beast surfaced, I freaked. What the hell was going on in my future that involved murdering over-sized fragile rhino? Was I a poacher? Was I some sort of ‘save the rhino’ activist? Did I unintentionally fall into a grimy cult who worshiped the rhinoceros as it’s spirit animal? WHY THE FUCK IS THERE A RHINOCEROS BOGARTING MY FUTURE SELF MOMENT?!
It was semi-traumatizing for at least a week. I wasn’t sure if I just epically failed the exercise and the “oooo shiny” disorder I seem to have pulled a coup d’état on my imagination or if I was somehow channeling psychic abilities to see into my, albeit creepy, future. Whatever it was, it haunted me for several days. This is how my imagination rolls. And sometimes it not only scares the bajeebus out of me, but it manages to wreck awesome shit in its path.
Whenever I come up with an idea – a project, a goal, a dream – my imagination kicks in. I start to imagine what the idea could end up being. I start to feel what it could feel like to achieve that hugely audacious goal I’m after. I begin to visualize what the impact of that zany project could be. I can start piecing together all the little details of what life will be like once the dream comes true. And that vision – that explicit, lucid vision – then shapes what action I take to achieve it.
It sounds logical. But eventually that lustrous clarity starts feeds into tunnel vision. I keep feeding the fire that burns for the vision of the end result as opposed to exploring what lies just outside the boundaries of that original picture. Instead of letting the development of that idea in its purest form take shape based on new ideas or alternatives or paths, I keep marching forward toward. I get soooo caught up in what my imagination has created for me to reach for that I manage to miss out on all the pivots and back-alleys that life presents me while I’m nurturing my little idea to grow into its deserved big-deal panties.
It’s much like how parents often raise their children to be what and who they imagine the child to be as an adult. Mom imagines raising a vivacious little girl to be a bright, well-mannered woman who has a family, security, and stability. Mom puts baby girl in bedrooms filled with frills, lace, and lots of little dollies. Mom gets little girl dances classes and piano lessons. Slightly-less-little girl likes rough housing with neighbor boys and prefers mudpies to tea parties. Little-more-less-little girl plays sports instead of instruments. Not-so-little-anymore girl ditches class to learn how to juggle and takes auto shop instead of home-ec. Grown-up-girl is almost 30, still single, and makes a living shaking shit up in a start-up company within a brand new industry. And Mom still buys her fully grown, adult daughter nail polish, a makeup bag, and kitchen utensils for Christmas hoping that someday, her vivacious little girl will grow into what she raised her to be.
It’s that persistence of the vision and the stubborness of our original imagined outcome that drives us to keep pushing and pushing and pushing to achieve what we set out to do. I dreamed it, damn it… I CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!
But should it happen? That’s the question I ask myself these days when evaluating my countless failures and trying to learn from them. Should that original vision be achieved if all signs point elsewhere? Should Mom have given in earlier and tried to nurture a different path for her vivacious little girl? Should she have given into the path of least resistance? The path of least resistance is what makes rivers bend and curve and swirl. It can make the river crooked, but it adds viscosity and texture and meat to its flow. I think I need more viscosity in my ideas.
So I’m trying something new this time. My most recent big idea is different than any other big idea I’ve ever had. So I’m going to parent this idea differently. I’m kicking it freestyle with the path of least resistance on this one. I’m not going to fight for the end-result vision. No boundaries. No barriers. No bullshit excuse to keep feeding an overstimulated imagination-dream-monster.
I’m letting this one breathe. This idea is going to turn when it needs to turn, curve when it needs to curve, and hell… it’s going to serpentine its way into existence if it damn well pleases. This idea is worthy of the freedom to grow and change and BE what it needs to be. Shit, maybe it’ll turn into a giant, ceramic rhinoceros face on a wall of a loft in a big city somewhere with an owner that looks a lot like me.
Or maybe it won’t. Because that would be weird.