Fear holds back my imagination

I had a revelation this morning as I walked down the hill to the newsagent: fear holds back my imagination. A fear of imagining the impossible; fear of saying, hey I want this wonderful thing and other people laughing. It was a meta-level realisation of the lid that fear was putting on my imagination.

Yesterday I stood under a motorway viaduct and watered a patch of concrete. It was a light-hearted visual offering to draw attention to how dead urban spaces are and how we should think about how to bring life back to these spaces.

I enjoyed the experience, but then I felt convention rolling in. Back to proper work; serious stuff. As if there isn’t anything more serious than imagining a wonderful, flourishing future for each other.

That’s fine Oliver, but don’t be silly. We need sensible suggestions here. That’s not viable – possible – realistic. Be more conventional. Don’t rock the boat.

But this morning, something shifted. I saw all of that negative stuff as a framing – something that filters out possibility, imagination, opportunity. It is imperceptible because it is all encompassing. A temporary glitch in the system meant I spotted the filter for what it is. And the joy in the revelation is that through conscious effort that framing can be removed.

I saw people walking towards me and I smiled at them and they all smiled back at me. We all have hopes. We may have similar hopes. We all want to be loved and cared for. We all want a better future for future generations. There is so much humanity that we share. What if we could find a way to say this to each other. To not be scared.

Does fear hold back your imagination?

Try imagining how you want the world to be. Write it down. And then look at it, and ask yourself, what are you scared of imagining? Now go deeper if you can. What could you do? What could we achieve together? If only we could overcome the fear of imagining and sharing, we could build great things.

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