There is a tendency these days to downplay the power of imagination. We often dismiss its voice as ‘just my imagination’ or ‘a fantasy’. Somehow we have collectively come to think that it is smarter and more realistic to stick to the facts and shape our world only from that which we can see and touch.
Perhaps, in these days when all seems shrouded in doom and gloom, it is time open our thinking to the realms of the imagination. In its purest form imagination is how we shape the future into being. It is the tool we can use to dream up new realities.
Late in January the wonderful science fiction and fantasy writer, Ursula le Guin, died. I have been thinking about her work a lot since then for she is one of the authors who shaped my desire to write when I was a teenager. In her novels she created worlds of imagination that explored different ways society could be structured. In 2014 she received the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014.* In her acceptance speech she said:
I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. …
We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.
– Ursula Le Guin
Yesterday I wrote a blog post about feelings of my life being stuck and how I was waiting for things to change. I received some interesting comments in response that gave me food for thought. I like the idea that the time in limbo can be spent listening within.
It is in this void, the place of apparent absence, that the voice of the imagination whispers strongest.
*I found the Ursula le Guin quote on the always insightful blog of the astrologer Gray Crawford https://graycrawford.net/