Imagination is a muscle. It strengthens with use.
This coming Saturday, my dear friend Deborah and I will be leading a workshop called Building Imaginal Bridges here at Earthaven Ecovillage, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Earthaven is just down the road from the old Zendik Farm, where I first encountered “imagine” as a future-forming verb.
At Zendik, we believed that we could spark change by envisioning our “imajia” world, our “imajia” selves; we called our utopia “Ecolibrium,” short for “ecological equilibrium.” While there, I read descriptions by Wulf (one of Zendik’s co-founders) of Ecolibrium, wrote about it myself, tape-recorded a conversation with a friend in which we tried to render our future visions in sensual detail. From Wulf’s writing, I recall the idea of diverting the military to eco-restoration, and the idea of the “simpleton system” – an approach to tools, machines, and devices dictating that all of them should be understandable, and repairable, at least by a village craftsperson, if not by every user; in my own writing, I tried to re-form myself as the perfect Zendik, and the world as a place where everyone lived as I believed we did – in total honesty and cooperation, with respect for each other’s genius, joyously pursuing work we loved. Sometimes I mentioned specifics – advertising would disappear, attempts to lie would cause skull explosions, there’d be “lots of singing, lots of music—color in sound, as in sight. Many distinct tones and trills and voices. Laughter and weeping. Goats bleating. Birds warbling and cats squawking and babies caterwauling.” In our tape-recorded conversation, my friend and I imagined a web of villages, each with its own cast of growers, gatherers, makers, its own art, music, food, clothing, stories – walk a mile or two down the path and find a different culture.
Despite the etheric electric fence around my mind, at Zendik, I did catch a glimpse of the power and wonder of imagining, with as much precision as I could, how life might be a generation hence, what shape my own life might one day take. After Zendik, as my imaginal field expanded to include any idea or source that appealed to me, as I claimed freedom to write and speak freely, I began to notice that dreams drawn from my inklings and yearnings, then seeded in word and speech, sometimes came true.
Here’s the thing, fellowbeings: We are called, now, to do far more than proofread, or edit, or even revise our collective story – we are called to reimagine it. We can do this, if we strengthen our imaginal muscles by using them, if we bust through our current story’s etheric electric fence to the meadow, just beyond it, where miracles sprout like wildflowers.
Thirteen years ago, in Chico, California, the man who inscribed the curvy purple “W” on my arm told me that only when he was able to see a plan in action did it wind up being realized. In a culture beyond fixing – but ripe for rebirth – it is our responsibility, and could be our joy, to practice seeing – with all three eyes – the worlds, the lives, the webs that make our hearts sing.
Come to Earthaven – where “village” is a verb – and build imaginal bridges with us. Stone by stone. Pebble by pebble. Grain by grain of sand.