For many of us, when we were growing up, day dreaming was considered a waste of time. In fact, until recently the vital role of dreaming during sleep wasn’t even understood. Now we know that both day dreaming and night dreaming are far from frivolous, in fact they’re essential for mental health and personal development. They take us out of the dictates of external reality and move us into the abstract, metaphorical and imaginary. The realm of possibility.
Sometimes “possibility” gets a Polly Anna reputation. For instance, when people say, “anything is possible,” it might sound shallow or overly optimistic.
The stuff of you imagination is supposed to contribute to reality. That’s why we’re here. To take inspired ideas and make them reality. Of course, the best way to do that is taking opening your keyboard, or taking out a pen and paper and writing!
So, whether it’s a book, or a film, or a business you’re jumping into, it’s essential to take that dream and run it through a series of steps. I call them: Possible, Probable and Reality.
Possibility = Play
Here we get a feel for the game, testing out what it’s like and seeing what we can do. But as you get to the edge of the possible, everything you once found difficult and scary, will become easier and more familiar. The last thing we need to do (before we move onto the probable) is to put some skin in the game. One of the best ways to do that is to is to begin showing our work to others, which we’ll talk about in the next chapter.
Probable = Persistence
Once you sacrifice a little comfort, maybe even a little dignity, for your work, something ironic happens: you love it more. Moving out of the possible into the probable is a little like moving out of infatuation into commitment. Probable doesn’t get all the great press that possible does, because it requires more effort. It's deeper and more serious. We’ve burned through the initial sugar high and this is where the real treasure is hidden.
Reality = Reflection
The rite of passage from probable to real is a little trickier because it’s something we define specifically for ourselves. If we don’t define it, we’ll never get there. At one time, my desired reality was to get published in literary magazines. Why? Who knows? But when each goal became a reality, it felt great, because that’s specifically what I wanted, even though it might not be meaningful to anyone else. But because I understood the specific challenges and chose a specific outcome, it was extremely fulfilling in the end. Follow through, fail, reflect, try a new strategy, and repeat until the desired goal becomes reality.
Why is it so important to make the stuff locked up in your imagination a reality?
Because from the imagination you’re no longer solely responding to the outside world, you’re tapping into your creative capacity and imposing your own vision from inside out. You’re contributing to the world rather than just responding to it. You’re creating that change that no one else can.
Sometimes we get so lost in our day to day reality that we forget the importance of activating it, and expressing our own self and our own soul in the outside world. To finish up, I’ve provided some questions that will help you exercise your imagination in every day life. These questions can serve as either play or reflection:
Grab your favorite journal because you might need more space and allow these questions to guide you, rung by rung into your creative work.
1. What’s your life like right now? What are the themes, events and tasks that dominate your attention?
2. If you were writing a myth or fairy tale about your life, what would the current scene be like? Are you lost in a forest? Seeking shelter from a storm? Reaching the pinnacle of a mountain?
3. What about your writing life? Are you in a period of famine or flood? Describe your creative life in detail. Even if you don’t feel like it, reach into the realm of metaphor. What does your imagination tell you?
By honoring your imagination, you’re steering your way back to the page. The answers you’ve been seeking aren’t superficial. Once you get into this habit, your life will never be the same.