As lovely as it is to imagine away feeling sick, scared, or uncomfortable, being endowed with a big imagination means that you have the ability to flip the coin and imagine things that aren't so fun. Things that are scary, intimidating, and downright horrifying. Planes crashing, your subway car exploding, making one last mistake at your job and being fired and thrown out of the building. I am the Houdini of imagining myself shunned by friends, homeless, and in every kind of medical distress known to humankind. It's not fun, and as much as I can joke about this dark side of my imagination, it has caused me so much pain and suffering. It has caused me anxiety beyond what I will often admit or talk about.
When I found this quote, (above) I thought "YES. That's it." Can you relate to this? Do you both love and hate your vivid imagination? I often think I would love to give up just a little of my "good" imagination in order to reduce my "bad" imagination.
But we already know it doesn't work like that. And I know that we all know that what comes at this point in the blog article is the cliche explanation, that you cannot sacrifice one without the other. That you must accept the dark and the light. You must learn to dance with both.
I'm not insulting these explanations. They are, in fact, true. They provide us with the only sustainable way to keep going as a creative, someone who is both supported and tortured by their imagination. We can either learn to love wrestling with the good and bad of having a rich imagination, or we can allow ourselves to sink into our own souls, buried in the quicksand of our own consciousness. And as someone with a vivid imagination can attest to, that does not sound pleasant at all.
I am still working on this dance, and one bright spot I realized recently is that when you have a stellar imagination, it means you can imagine that things could be different than they are at the present moment. Imagination means you have what it takes to believe that a situation that is really crummy can turn around--this keeps you hopeful. You can also see that a long string of good fortune could also suddenly transform into hard times---this keeps you humble and prepared for different outcomes.
Do whatever it takes to shift from the imagined nightmares to the potential delights and you will feel more alive, more empowered. It might take kitten videos on YouTube, baking brownies, an unprecedented movie marathon, or just holing up in your house and sitting quietly with yourself for an entire weekend. Learn the dance well enough that it becomes routine and you can have fun with it. The world needs the gifts of our imagination more than ever right now, and we can only lend ours if we are vigilant about caring for ourselves, however we need to.
Here's one more little graphic about imagining the worst that I found that made me laugh. Perhaps I could at least get myself a cape?