No Back-Up Plans Allowed


Earlier this month, I exhorted you, dear readers, to dream along with me, and then write your dreams and hopes and vision for the future out (see post here). Imagination is integral for this. If you can’t imagine it, then how can you really dream it or hope for it or see it as a true possibility?

The composers Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke wrote a song in 1940 called Imagination. It’s a sad love song about a man who dislikes his imagination because all it does is take his thoughts back to the person he wants to forget. There are lines in it like Imagination is silly, Imagination is crazy, Imagination is funny…  Each declaration of what the imagination is is negative, because, in the case of this song, this man is not happy to have one. Consequently, imagination is bad. 

While I do enjoy this song, particularly Cleo Lane’s rendition of it, I have to disagree. Worse, not even respectfully. I think this song is wrong. Imagination is one of life’s essential things. It’s one of the most potent power tools in your tool chest, if you will. You need it. But, just like any power tool, it is important to charge the batteries or plug it in. Point is, for your power tool to work, you need to make sure it has a functioning energy source. You can’t use it if it doesn’t have power. Even more so, if you have a bad power source, your tool will not operate efficiently, e.g. your batteries won’t charge fully or your electrical wiring could catch fire while your tool is plugged in, etc. 

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
— Albert Einstein

Your source to recharge your batteries is really important because it can determine the outcome of your project. Bad source = bad project. Good source = good project. It’s not a particularly difficult concept to grasp, but just because it’s not difficult doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Let’s go back to the song, shall we? The imagination is seen as bad because this man has fixated his thoughts on something which causes him grief and heartache. He has given his emotions free rein in his life and now his thoughts circle around in a downward spiral of negativity. This guy needs a new source.

In order to change his outlook- which includes his imagination- he needs to change his thoughts. The Greek word, metanoia, from which our English word repent is derived, means one simple thing- to change one’s mind. To repent is not to say sorry, it’s to change your mind from one course of bad thinking and set it onto a new course of good thinking. BECAUSE once your mind changes, your body and your emotions and your imagination will change, too. It’s mind over matter. Period. 

Perhaps we must consider this as a child would, and there is no epitome of childhood so perfect as Peter Pan: 

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
— J.M. Barrie

I’m still in the process of compiling my vision for 2018 and the future beyond, but I’m letting my imagination go a little wild with it. It’s an important thing to do because vision leads to imagining and imagining leads to reality. Don’t take my word for it. Just look to the authors and artists of repute:

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
— Jonathan Swift
Everything you can imagine is real.
— Pablo Picasso

And since everything we can imagine is real and our imagination is a form of dreaming, it’s important to our planning process for the future. As Gloria Steinem said:

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

There’s also Anne of Green Gables take on it:

Because when you’re imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.
— L.M. Montgomery

But there is one thing I’m intentional about NOT doing during all this imagining and dreaming. I WILL NOT LOOK AT THE DUBIOUS OR THE DOUBTFUL. I WILL NOT WAVER OR HESITATE IN UNCERTAINTY. 

Why? Cornelia Funke says it best in her novel, Inkheart:

‘Because fear kills everything,’ Mo had once told her. ‘Your mind, your heart, your imagination.’

I’m going to let myself dream all the greatest possibilities. I’m going to imagine them out to the fullest extent and record them, and I’m NOT going to worry one iota about the how. You can’t have a HOW if you don’t dream it NOW. The how will invariably sort itself out once you fully grasp the thing which sets your heart on fire because once your heart is afire, you will pursue with precisioned purpose that dream. Your heart and your imagination are integral to one another. In them lies the foundations for your world, or as John Keats wrote: 

I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.

When your imagining your dreams, there is absolutely no room for back-up plans. There are no contingencies when it comes to what you’re allowed to dream. I like how Superman says it:

If you have a back-up plan, you’ve already admitted defeat.
— Henry Cavill

Unleash your imagination. Let it wander all the way back to the dreams you had as a child when hope was more real than fear. And know that some of the world’s greatest minds and most influential individuals esteem imagination above all else.

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
— Albert Einstein
Imagination governs the world.
— Napoleon Bonaparte

Not only did these preeminent men esteem imagination as the top, they also knew that without it, no one would ever succeed in life. 

I have learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

This weekend, I encourage you all to let go of the doubts and fears that are corrupting your power source and plug into the hopes that feed your imagination. 

What fear is holding your dream back? What contingency plan have you allowed to frame your comfort zone? Identify them. Face them. Let them go. And embrace this new year with a fully charged imagination fueled with indefatigable hope. 

P.S. For you writers out there like me, take Sylvia Plath’s words to heart and banish your doubt.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

P.P.S. There's still time to enter Whiskers on Kittens first 2018 Giveaway: The English Wife by Lauren Willig. See more here