Recently in talking with students about future goals, thinking about the complexities of modern life and political stresses, and looking at the outcomes of choices made by friends and colleagues, it has seemed to me that many of our limitations are more a limitation of imagination than of circumstances or capabilities. We can do more than we think we can, and we can expect more than we think we can for the most part. We can expect more of ourselves than we think we can.
I tell my students over and over, “Your future is limited only by your imagination.” That doesn’t mean that anything is possible, but it does mean that possibilities could be anything. By that I mean that with sufficient imagination, we can manage any bends in the road we set off on. The whole business of visualization and mental rehearsal, which seems a bit of delusional magical thinking, actually is one way to unleash our imagination–at least a little bit.
We rein ourselves in so that we will not be disappointed when we fail to reach our goals. We establish limits so that we don’t seem selfish, or grandiose, or crazy. Hedging our bets, playing it safe, sitting on the sidelines. Yes, we avoid some losses, but we do without a lot of gains that we don’t even know we are missing. We short-circuit joyful abandon and silly immaturity.
What would happen if we spent time daydreaming pictures of what we really want instead of being mature and figuring out what might be possible. What distances might we go if we didn’t have goals, but fantasies? What if we dreamed the dreams that freed our imaginations to puff up into light, beautiful clouds of possible pictures? Now that might be interesting.