Sometimes I drift off during the day and go somewhere else in my mind.
I was always an imaginative kid—envisioning entire worlds of my own creation—and this has translated into my early adulthood. I still can put myself in different places, imagine myself being somewhere or someone else, seeing myself in a different place or a different time.
The question that beckons is whether or not this serves any purpose in becoming fully actualized, or if this is simply a childlike affinity that could be done away with entirely.
Let’s first state the obvious: if we always imagine ourselves as something other than who we are, then we will be unable to accept ourselves in the now. This will create a certain amount of unnecessary suffering. It will also make it incredibly difficult to actually improve ourselves as human beings. We can’t know where we might need improvement if we are detached from our immediate reality.
To perpetually imagine ourselves elsewhere is to lose sight of what is happening in the present. That is a given.
There is another side to this.
The capacity to envision ourselves somewhere beyond the present moment is completely integral to accomplishing things outwardly. This is where I feel as though my childhood imagination has been a powerful tool in my adult life. We need to have a vision for our future if we are going to carve out a path for ourselves.
There are two sides of the coin of imagination. It may work to distract and disconnect us from our present condition, and it may also help us move toward a more fulfilled and abundant future. It can be either a positive force or a negative force depending on how it’s used.
How should we use our imagination?
Well, I am big on the notion of balance, as one might know from reading past articles of mine. What I try to do is balance the movement of my imagination with the stark immediacy of what is happening in the present. It is a myth that the two are mutually exclusive.
I believe that health and equanimity are to be achieved through this balance.
“Thus, it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension—the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent to the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being.” ~ Viktor Frankl
We want to balance the projections of our imagination with the immediate reality of the here and now. This is not a particularly easy thing to do. It takes a tremendous amount of practice and experimentation, and the process is going to be different for different people.
For example, because I am naturally more imaginative, it took a conscious effort for me to embody the present moment and remain connected with what is happening in the now. I really had to go out of my way to embrace the solidity and substance of daily life. This was something I worked through with meditation, as well as forcing myself to deal with real world situations—relationships, jobs, responsibilities, and so on.
The imagination can sometimes detract from our daily experience, but ultimately it is an absolute necessity to let our imaginations thrive. We paint the world with the colors of our imagination, and to do so in a way that contributes to our happiness and competence in our daily lives is perhaps the highest art.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Callie Rushton