Your pure imagination is the great escape.
“You’ll definitely have to commit suicide to be free,” I told him.
“In fact, ideally, you’ll do it all the time. Not physically. Mentally.”
“You want me to kill my mind?”
“Not all of it. Just the dungeon.”
~ Excerpt from Martha Beck’s
Steering By Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny
Few moments in a biographical documentary have stopped me cold more than Gore Vidal’s retelling of the death of his longtime partner of 53 years, Howard Austen (Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia). On his deathbed, Howard looked up at Gore and said, “Didn’t it go by awfully fast?”
At that moment in the film, I hit pause and got up. I literally wanted to walk away from the painful truth of Howard’s poignant question. I gathered up my journal and pen and went outside to sit and think in the sun.
The Dungeon of the Mind
What was it exactly about that quote that had shaken me? I started to write whatever was coming up, ignoring whether or not any of it made sense in the moment. In a bold, Sharpie line, I wrote, “I think I fear having regrets at the end of my life.”
Regardless of our age or circumstance, we can find ourselves feeling that time is slipping away from us. It seems that we entrepreneurs and creators experience this frequently as each of our wishlists of what we want to create, experience, and achieve is long and mighty.
In any moment, we can feel we are somehow shackled and unable to move forward with pursuing our dreams and living our lives to the fullest, most colorful way we can imagine. In this moment of quarantine, we are perhaps experiencing this most intensely and are finding ourselves feeling stuck in place well beyond a physical sense.
I am noticing that waves of isolation, confinement, and frustration wash over me—not unlike waves of grief. And as each wave breaks upon the shoreline of my heart, my mind is right there to want to gallop off into a downward spiral of painful, limiting thoughts.
What Martha Beck would call the dungeon of the mind.
If we want to truly free ourselves in any moment (quarantine or not), recognizing the shape our particular mind dungeons form is necessary to begin dismantling them. We do, as Martha suggests, have to commit suicide of the mind—snuffing out the part of the mind that keeps us trapped.
We are dying to be free. So, how do we escape the bars…our own carefully-crafted mental prisons?
The Freedom of Pure Imagination
We can die into our imagination and let ourselves be lifted up and over anything holding us in place. Including, most especially, ourselves.
We can remember the actions and thoughts that bring us right back to our true selves. The moments of make believe that empowered us and freed us as children.
For me, that meant almost every waking moment of childhood. I was always in a world of my pure imagination: playing in the woods, swinging on apple tree branches as blossoms fell all around me, playing dress up, making up scripts for plays, playing school, creating elaborate detective stories, jumping out of trees to see if I could fly, and romping solo in the woods.
Inside each kernel of these moments of being lost in play lies a key to a door to a dungeon lock.
We are all in a collective moment of deep transformation and growth. Just as the hermit crab walks out of the home it has outgrown, we are doing the same. We just haven’t found our new home yet.
Take heart. We are going to create it.
As the entrapment of what no longer serves us falls away, we can gather up speed and clarity for what it is we do want. The map is our imagination.
Come with me and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation
What we’ll see will defy explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be
Let us now reclaim one of the greatest gifts we were born with…our incomparable imagination. There are no walls, no limits, no restrictions there. It is a field of untold possibility, dotted with color and an illuminating spotlight of sun.
What can we reimagine?
It is a place of freedom and a feeling of being home inside our own skin. It is a cauldron of ideas, choices, actions, and experimentation.
What can we reimagine?
It is a willingness to remember who we truly are, the courage and sense of adventure we possess, and the endless possibilities we are gifted with in every moment.