Friday, September 25, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Imagination and Limits

"My favorite place is my imagination." ~ Jackie Pagan

On my way to see Muhammad Yunus earlier this week, one of the subway posters caught my attention. It said "Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." It's a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher. It made me think of how often our own reality and experience limits our ability to realize, work for, and achieve change in every aspect of our lives. How do we begin to expand our limits to imagine a wholly different existence, for ourselves and for others?

I find that reading helps. I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies, and reading about the accomplishments and motivations of others gives me inspiration and courage. Stubbornness and a desire to seek out and generate understanding can go a long way toward imagining a different kind of world.

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too," Goethe said. It's true in business, in personal relationships, in rising above challenges. If we commit to being present and persevering, somehow we make it through even the most difficult of times. Somehow the way ahead opens before us. There's real magic in commitment.

There were plenty of times in the past three weeks when I thought I might fall apart; when I felt scared and alone and filled with anxiety. And the moment I felt those old familiar feelings creeping in, I promptly slammed the door on them. I couldn't let myself feel defeated; that's a road to nowhere. I had to keep digging deeper for strength. I had to imagine a different reality where I was grateful for who and what I have in my life, rather than being resentful for what I had lost. I could not let my previous vision of my day-to-day life limit how I looked at my life for all of my tomorrows. I had to commit to a new way forward where I seek to love this and every moment. It's a commitment I'm making every day.

Our imagination is powerful beyond measure, so powerful that we can barely even comprehend our full capabilities for change. We are the only ones who place limits on our vision. The world is a wide-open space, a blank canvas that we color in to our own liking. If only we could recognize that, we'd be able to keep from painting ourselves into a corner. We can and should invent and re-invent ourselves over and over again. And as we take on that challenge of re-invention we inspire others to do the same. In truth nothing has to be as it is; it can all be changed.

No comments: