Your Duty to Imagine

Imagination is a psychic process; using only your thoughts you can construct a model of reality that can as bizarre as you want, because it is all in your head. Observe that a child sitting in a cardboard box can turn it into a rocket ship or a race car, and to him it really is that thing. Most of us have moved on from sitting in cardboard boxes, but we have not stopped imagining. The act of imagining can take many forms, from the daydream of the hot girl in class to musings on the scale of a galactic empire in a galaxy far, far away.

There’s a curious thing about this kind of activity, though, that we don’t really pay much mind to but which has potentially far reaching consequences: when we imagine, we tend to act in a way so as to fulfill that imagination. This happens every time, however conscious or subconscious it is. We act in such a way as to move that object of imagination from the realm of fantasy into the physical world. Hence, you either plot to make a move on the hot girl before anyone else does, or you begin writing a screenplay that goes on to become a massively popular film franchise (in regards to the illustrative examples above, which I only use to make a point).

What we imagine, therefore, seems to have an effect on our behavior. If you are watching Cristiano Ronaldo dribble a football across a TV screen and you continue to imagine yourself doing that, chances are that you will eventually try playing soccer yourself. If you have been thinking all day about the amazing feeling of melted cheese and sauce on a bread base in your mouth, you may be moved to ordering pizza for dinner. You can see in these two examples that becoming the next Ronaldo is much less likely than you having pizza for dinner, but that doesn’t matter– what matters is that the imagining of these things caused a change in behavior, however subtle.

So what happens when you imagine a world of peace and abundance? Well, you start to act- perhaps subconsciously- in a way that such a world manifests itself in reality. Perhaps that’s what John Lennon was trying to tell us in his song. Maybe he’s not just telling us that “it would be nice” to live in a world without war and all that, but he is actually calling on us to make the act of imagining such a world. If all of us spent a little time each day just imagining a world of beauty and freedom, and all of us are moved to act in some small way towards that goal, then our acts combined would eventually lead to such a world manifesting itself in reality. After all, the world and culture are made of thoughts.

But when you constantly keep imagining only the satisfaction of your own ego in some future state, then you start to act only in that direction. Doing this lowers your sensitivity to the effects of your actions on others because you are caught up in the scramble to please yourself. You can’t see anything else as long as your actions are bringing you closer to that imagined goal. And it certainly seems like none of us care how many people, animals, and the planet itself have to suffer as long as we can have the things we want. Excesses of ego is the root cause of all of humanity’s problems.

Therefore it is imperative that everyone imagines, that everyone dreams a beautiful dream. When you realize that your happiness is connected to everyone’s happiness- and not in some airy-fairy way, but literally and logically– you will be more sensitive to the consequences of your actions, and you will imagine a situation where everyone can be taken care of.

Keep imagining, and then express your imagination through your acts and any other way you can. This is a special clarion call to the artist. Artists have the ability to take an object from their own imagination and form it in the physical world. They, of all people, have perhaps the greatest ability to actually “show you what they mean.” Artistic expression takes many forms: painting, sculpture, dance, song, poetry, film, computer code, origami, photography, whatever… The dreamers who have this capability are duty-bound to express themselves in the medium of their choice in order to spread these ideas to the artistically backward among us. And if you have no artistic talent then let they way you live be your art, and let your actions be the way you paint.

You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Which is great, because it’s going to take more than just one person.

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