Thursday, June 23, 2011

Imagination and reality: dance or conflict II

When skateboarding I repeatedly confuse imagination with reality. In my mind I see myself easily performing a variety of new tricks and become enthused to carry them out in practice. Yet, when attempting to do so I completely blunder. Worse still, I'm surprised at my failure! Skating is forcing me to confront the disparity between my imaginings and the real world, and I'm identifying the same discordant pattern in other aspects of my life.

How can the imagination be tamed and brought closer to reality? According to Kabbalah there are two phases to all living things, 'running' and 'returning'. In regards to imagination, 'running' is characterized by aspiration and dreaming, while 'returning' involves landing back on earth in order to capture one's dreams in the tangible world. If the run and return are closely linked one can easily translate their dreams into reality; while a large gap between the two suggests a trip into a fantasy land with which one can't 'return' into the real world.

This idea can be combined with Dr DeBono's list of four general categories of aspiration:
1. Certainty - imagining that which you can do with ease;   
2.Probability - imagining that which you are likely to succeed at doing;  
3. Possibility -imagining that which you are unlikely to succeed at doing;  
4.Fantasy - imagining that which is entirely out of your reach to do.                  

A simple example of certainty would be imagining oneself tying up one's shoelaces, as one can easily proceed to do so in actuality. An individual who lives in the realm of certainty is typically one who fears failure and challenge and loves security and the path of least resistance. In Kabbalah terms, his Return has largely subsumed his ability to Run.

An exaggerated example of fantasy would be imagining tying one's shoelaces through thought alone. One may sit gazing at the laces with immense concentration - for three decades or so - and frustratingly, they just won't budge. One who dwells much of the time in the realm of fantasy (remembering that this individual believes it to be reality) is commonly in need of escaping a pervasive distressing feeling related to the real world. An escape often achieved by overshooting in the opposite direction. Hence one with severe low self esteem may entertain outlandishly grand plans for himself  in order to neutralize his pain. Sometimes, a leap into fantasy is due to hyper-excitement which causes the imagination to break the grip of reason. In this category, returning has been subsumed within running.

In relation to skating it is of benefit to keep the above scale in mind and to categorize one's imaginings accordingly. The ability to make such categorizations is mainly based on common sense, reference to past experience, and trial and error. One knows which tricks they're capable of performing with ease (certainty) based on having landed them consistently in the past. And with that knowledge, one can infer which new tricks are likely to be in one's grasp (probability). In regard to tricks that cannot be gauged based on such inferences due to their novelty or complexity, basic progressive experimentation should serve as an effective  guide as to whether the trick falls into the probable, possible, or fantasy categories.

It is noteworthy that the scale isn't static. What may initially be probable may become certain as one masters new tricks; what was merely possible at first may become probable, and even degrees of fantasy may become a possibility  - even certainty - through prodigious advancement. For living things run and return...    

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