The other night, my partner and I were sitting outside looking at the sky playing a game where we each describe our perfect home and city and jobs and days. He went first, outlining a cabin by water and walking a dog in the morning and writing and performing comedy. When it was my turn I affirmed the cabin, water, and dog, adding some touches like a loft in the house, and eventually being a parent, to which he nodded and smiled in agreement. When I got to what my fantasy day looked like, I talked about some things I might do as a job, but I had so much trouble talking about the height of what I wanted to do. Everything I said was somewhat realistic and not really what I wanted to achieve, but what I thought I could probably get in this moment. I couldn’t say out loud that I want to act at least a few times a year and intimacy direct a few times a year in large theaters and independent film productions. That during a day, I may teach a class in the morning and rehearse in the evening, and possibly go back and forth from a job as part of the artistic leadership of an arts organization. I couldn’t say that I wanted to work around 30-35 hours in a week and have those hours be in various places is various roles. I couldn’t say that I wanted to make enough money to take care of myself and my people, travel when I wanted to, and have a handful of material things that brought me joy (oh, and go to the doctor for things in my body I want to address that aren’t emergencies - what luxury!)
Even in my wildest fantasies, I was cutting myself off at the knees. I was limiting even my imagination for what I could do in the future because of how I have been limited here, in reality. I make myself smaller than I am so often. I don’t know when I learned to apologize when I walk into a room, or accept less than what I want. I am not sure when I decided it was best to assume that I’m not good enough to do a lot of things that I have worked hard to build skill and craft in. I don’t know when I began to accept the bare minimum because I thought that was all I could get. But I do not like it. So it stops here.
From now on I will allow myself to indulge in the most ridiculous and biggest and juiciest fantasies. I will give myself a loft and lake and a dog and a crapton of fulfillment, pride, and joy in what I do for a living. I will imagine a world in which everyone is taken care of and has time and space to live life in the way that makes sense to them. I will imagine abundant social services and fair governments and good food and fabulous clothes. I will imagine rest free from guilt and work free from burn out. I will imagine all art I consume (and every decision in every organization) is made by a team of drastically different individuals who value each other’s voices. I will imagine a society in which we celebrate and uplift all cultures, backgrounds, religions, sexualities, genders, races, and bodies. I will imagine that we all make enough money and no one makes too much. I will imagine the news full of only fascinating human interest stories, because there is no violence to grieve. I will imagine a life for myself and for all of us that fills us up in the day and sings us to sleep at night.
From now on, I will let my imagination go wild, and I suggest you do the same. Because I am starting to deeply believe that our imagination is where it starts.