December 2, 2010

Imagination Lost

I have been a Minimalist for a few years now; a movement that has gained steam recently due to our economic times. Minimalism isn't exactly the same thing as frugality or conservative finance. However, if economic hardship has made people examine their lives and question their habits or lifestyle, then the crash of the stock market, the loss of 401k plans, and the mortgage crisis indeed come with a silver lining. We often hear authors and dreamers tell us to think of our life as a story. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. That it is in our best interest to write a good story. The most obvious problem this presents for our human nature is the contrasting desire to seek comfort and to avoid conflict. The only stories I ever find good or interesting are ones in which an obstacle is overcome. The greater the obstacle to overcome, the more impressive and interesting the story. And the very best stories leave you astonished at the end when you realize the protagonist overcame his assigned obstacle with nobility and creativity. In today's very consumer oriented society, the masses label obstacles as something to be avoided at all co$t...literally. We have been indoctrinated to some extent to believe that something already exists for the obstacle (or problem) we have. You just have to be able to buy it. We buy our solutions. And in the process we are slowly losing one of the most wonderful faculties of our humanness; our creativity. Another way to say this is that we are losing our capacity for imagination.

I love having revelations...usually. As with most revelations, they often get labeled as such after they've already infiltrated our hearts and minds. They are ideas or maxims we've adhered to for some time, but they often snuck in unlabeled and unidentified. We notice them later while doing some menial task...Oh, there you are. I didn't see you there...let's see, what shall I call you? My most recent revelation is that Minimalism, among many things, gives us the opportunity to exercise the lost art of creativity; our imagination. A minimalist does not believe a prepackaged object exists for every issue that may arise. Therein exists the opportunity to use the creative side to overcome. Thinking of our life as a good story and feeling some inclination to write a good one will be difficult at first. Primarily because it will force us to think of our obstacles or challenges as the very key ingredients to making our story worth sharing (and not like all the rest). Admittedly, I am still working on this one. The best imaginations are the ones less exposed to mass marketing, advertising, etc.. Imagination is often something labeled as childish, or taboo. Wow, you've got some imagination there. It's seen as something that a healthy, rational adult just doesn't exercise too much. We all must grow up, right? I think we've been fooled. Our imagination has taken such a beating from our society because it is the very thing that would keep us from being a loyal consumer...and there are profits at stake here! Oh, that our imaginations would not wither and die once and for all. That we would reawaken them and be awestruck by their power to overcome. That the children and free spirits would become our teachers. That our stories would be unique and filled with creativity. That we would awaken our humanity and the dreams that lay covered in dust in the attics of our childish minds.

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