Beginnings are exciting, serving up possibilities we have not yet dreamed. Since we are only one week into 2021, there is still plenty of time to embrace its newness. Like a blank page waiting to be filled, looking forward is simultaneously alluring and scary. Yet, there is something adventurous about imagining tomorrow, knowing that anything is possible. When embarking on any journey a few necessities must be packed. For the trek into 2021, I recommend these essentials: resilience, hope, kindness, and most especially imagination.
Imagination is crucial for welcoming this new year, which like last year, is bound to provide a worthy mental work-out for our ingenuity and creativity. Planning is great and I certainly do not scoff at preparing for both the expected and the unforeseen in life. But beware of plotting exactly how things should be, as the universe has its surprises. When we pre-view the world just as we want it, we inadvertently shut off countless viable opportunities. Imagination is a wonderful antidote for this.
Envisioning the future can help us identify our intentions. Hence a great way to launch 2021 is to stroll down “imaginary” lane. While imagination by nature may be fictitious and unscientific, imagining sheds a direct light on our inmost desires. It reveals and fine tunes the things for which our heart yearns. Fortunately, the imagination is at home with the arts, namely, writing, music, drawing, painting, and literature. Whichever enlivens your soul, is the perfect doorway to open your imagination. Original works or the classics are equals in igniting the imagination. Whether you write a poem or read Shakespeare’s sonnets, your innermost desires come to the fore.
I remember seeing a painting at the Uffizi that depicts the flight of Mary and Joseph into Egypt to escape the infanticide Herod the Great ordered to kill their son. While hundreds of paintings depict this event, for me the painting at the Uffizi fueled an entirely new understanding. Like other paintings, Mary is riding a donkey, led by Joseph, the child on her lap. But in this painting, the mother is carefully shielding Jesus’ view with her veil, so that he will not see the dead children along the side of the road. As many times as I considered this story, I had never imagined what it was like for Mary and Joseph to confront the victims of this horrific incident instigated because of their son. The arts power the imagination and open us to see things we have never seen, to hear new concepts, to sense unexplored truths. Like a kaleidoscope that changes the view with each turn, the arts offer the imagination new light, new color and new patterns. Am I promoting use of the arts to help you shape the year to come? Yes, I am.
Now is the time to begin to fill the blank page. Now is the time to engage your imagination to uncover your hopes, desires, and intentions for 2021. Make use of music, art, nature, and literature to imagine what you would like this year to give you, more importantly, to envision what you would like to give this new year.
“The imagination produces things as a synthesis of both meaning and presence. It does not merely reproduce things as “bare facts.” The imagination creates new perspectives for the facts it has found. It gives them a “background,” a “landscape.” It presents the world as related to the human, as touched by the heart and mind.” — Gerald J. Bednar, Faith as Imagination