Expanding Infinity

Every day I daydream.  Sometimes I intentionally set aside an hour or two to do it, laying on my back somewhere and staring up at the ceiling or the clouds.  Usually though, it just happens; I’ll be sitting, watching Dr. Who at home, or listening to SVP & Russillo on my lunch break.  Suddenly in the middle of a thought, my mind will drift away and I’ll be spreading wings that I don’t have, flying over distant mountain peaks. 

John Muir couldn’t have been more correct when he said that, “the power of imagination makes us infinite”.  When we truly explore our imaginations, there are no walls that can hold us in and no edges to the universe.  Our only limitations are self-imposed; we stop ourselves short too often.  Frequently we allow ourselves only to imagine things that seem to fit within our world and the understanding that we have for it. 

This is perfectly normal, after all, the imagination is just like a muscle, it needs to be exercised and stretched.  The less you use it, the less you’ll be able to.  We start off imagining simple things, like how our lives would be different if we were a little thinner, wealthier, or more confident.  Some people stop there, they allow that to be the extent of their daydreams, because they believe that fantasies and dreams are pointless; we live in the real world and dreaming about a false one won’t help anyone.

However, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that those same people are the ones that demand you use scratch paper to show your work when tackling a particularly difficult math problem in school. 
But that is exactly what the imagination is… scratch paper.  It’s a place to take some of life’s more difficult conundrums and find a solution that you never would have seen if you hadn’t bent the rules some.

You daydream about what it would be like to be just a bit more clever, more charming, or what would happen if you could do that one thing that you’ve never quite had the courage to do or say.  Then the dreams turn toward how you could become… that, how you could achieve… that.  Of course they’re just silly thoughts, not something to take seriously.  But what if?  What if you did something you haven’t done before, what if you actually tried to achieve your dreams?  What if you found a solution inside your head that just may be crazy enough to work?  Why not try it?

So what, if anything, do wild imaginations full of flight, alien worlds, magic, and physics-defying-grandeur bring to the table?  It’s fine to use your imagination to tackle the problems in your life; the best way to get the promotion, how to woo that special someone, or how to afford that vacation to somewhere that you’ve never been.  But what possible use is it to imagine yourself saving a world from genetic-experiments-gone-wrong, or riding on the back of an ice-breathing dragon?

Look at it this way, if you can imagine yourself in the most fantastical situations, if you can create entire universes in your mind for the sake of daydreams, then picture what an imagination that strong could do with a simple, every-day musing.  It’s once again no different than math; the most advanced calculus equations are virtually useless in day to day life, but if you can do them with ease, then multiplication is just as easy as remembering to breathe. 

Our imaginations are boundless and limitless in the possibilities that they provide. They give you the ability to sprout wings and fly over the horizons that keep you hemmed in to your day to day life.  They give you the chance to kiss your one true love on a remote beach at sunset, even if you haven’t met them yet.  Your imagination can take you places that you’ve only ever heard of; even more impressively, it can take you to places that don’t exist. 

Therefore I encourage you to reach for your dreams, if you want to make changes in your life, you have the means to do so.  If you want to change the lives of others, you have the means to do so.  If you want to change the world, you have the means to do so.  And if you want to shape the universe, we, collectively, as the human race, have the means to do so.

Let your mind wander, let your imagination take you to places never thought of.  Never be afraid to see where you can go.  If it takes you somewhere that scares you, know that you have no reason to fear it.  In your imagination you can feel free to step off a skyscraper and know that the laws of physics will bend to your will.  You are able to walk along the bottom of the seas, where even the sun won’t reach.  You have the ability to raise mountains or to paint new constellations in the sky.

I encourage each and every one of you to take some time each week to simply imagine.  Whether you want to lie back and watch the clouds while your mind explores, or maybe find some simple task (NOT DRIVING!), that doesn’t require your full attention and instead let your imagination take you to new places, either way is fine.  Just be sure to stretch it, test it, use it, enjoy it in all of its infinity. 

“Fantasy is like an exercise bicycle for the mind.  It may not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” – Sir Terry Pratchett 


No Words

                This is a post that I’ve been trying to write for more than a year now.  I’ve started writing it, sometimes even gotten pretty far, and then scrapped the whole thing a dozen or more times.  I’ve tried writing it as a poem, I’ve tried writing it as a story.  I’ve attempted to write peripheral pieces, touching on this topic for a sentence or two before backing off, like a kid daring to touch a hot stove…

Love may be the topic that is written about the most in human history.  It’s in nearly every story ever told.  It’s the pinnacle of human emotion and it is a life-saving drug.  Everyone who has ever told a story has told a story of love, some of those stories have shaped civilizations while others were forgotten forever. 

Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I’ve had so much trouble writing about it.  I crave a challenge, but this one may be too big.  I don’t want to write a story about love only to have it forgotten.  Yet I can’t seem to find the way to write a story that I’m happy with.  The words escape me; whatever I can come up with doesn’t feel right when it rolls off my tongue.

I’ve felt love, plenty of times.  Not the romantic sort, but the type of love that you feel for your family, your friends, your home.  Thoughts of the people that I care the most about do tend to make my heart beat a little harder and my chest swell with pride.  Likewise, staring at the horizon of the Sierra Nevada at any given time never fails to make me smile. 

However, that highest peak of emotion, true romantic love, that has avoided me so far.  This doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen it though.  I’ve seen it in the eyes of some of my closest friends and family.  I’ve seen it in the way they hold each other, the way they laugh and they cry together at the happiest or saddest of times. 

This past weekend I was at the wedding of a couple of my great friends.  There, I saw it again.  An undeniable bond existed between them and I’m convinced that everyone in the room felt it.  It was beautiful, the way that even in the midst of so many people and distractions, they could stare at each other and get lost in the bliss of the moment. 

The instant that hit me the hardest was during their first dance.  They had the floor to themselves, while over a hundred people watched them intently.  They gazed at each other and slowly swayed back and forth.  When I noticed the bride softly singing along with the song while her new husband smiled at her, both of them with their eyes glistening, I realized that even in such a crowded place, they had the ability to become utterly lost in one another.  They were happily swaying in time to the music in a world that consisted of nothing but themselves, completely alone together, and everyone in the room could feel it…

We as human beings are small, we live on a tiny blue speck in a void so large that our minds can’t fully comprehend it, and our lives flash by in a fraction of an instant.  Our bodies are miniscule compared to the world in which we live, which itself is miniature.  And yet we’re so very much bigger on the inside…

Sloshing around inside our minds we have oceans of sorrow, continents of joy, entire planets full of anger, emotions so numerous and so large as to be inconceivable.  Our minds, hearts, and souls are so full of these feelings that it seems inevitable that the tiny shells of our bodies must burst at the seams.  Yet we don’t.  We are truly remarkable in the capacity that we have for emotion and empathy.  But perhaps nothing is as remarkable as our ability to experience the greatest of those forces within us, love.

Our lives may be short and we may be small, but the emotion that we can feel is massive.  The love that we can pour in to the world is large, larger than we know, larger than we can understand.  It can shape the world around us, and in so doing it shapes us.  When we love someone or something, that simple and yet impossible act changes us, it never leaves us untouched.

As such, when people love each other as completely as those two on the dance floor, they shape and change themselves and each other.  We begin to take on the aspects of those we love, and they take on the characteristics of us.   

That being said, who we each want to be inevitably helps dictate the type of person that we fall in love with.  We strive to find someone that has the traits that we desire, not only in others but for ourselves.  Personally I’m attracted to people that are strong-willed, independent, ambitious, creative, and most importantly, passionate; but everyone craves something different, whether it’s something they feel they are missing or something they simply want more of.

Perhaps along the way you’ll pick up some facets to your personality that you weren’t expecting and you’ll change in ways that you never could have guessed.  That’s what makes it all so unpredictable and chaotically beautiful.  The greatest love stories involve people that were great before, when they were alone and separate, and once they find each other they become something monumental.

As I said, I haven’t found that true romantic love yet, maybe someday it will happen, but I’m in no rush.  Watching the newlyweds this past weekend and being around them and the other couples I know that share that undefinable connection has confirmed some of what I believe love to be.

Most importantly, this has shown me that I still don’t have the words to adequately describe that level of emotional connection, but that words are far from the only way to give it a voice, they may not even be a very good way to do so. 

Love can heal, it can cure, and it can give us everything at the times that we think there is nothing.  It’s truly a remarkable thing, and no matter what brain chemistry or psychologists say, I don’t believe it will ever truly be explained or defined.  It is sublime.