Envisioning the Self
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” It may seem strange to begin an essay/blog post about dreaming of a better you or me with words from the American feminist Gloria Steinem but really, the feminist movement was all about empowerment. Some would claim it was designed to destroy the fabric of a nation and indeed, in some areas of the world, equality is seen as that – a destructive tool. Empowerment is about strength and two strong people are much better than one – unless that one is too scared to have another strong person beside them.
The characters of comic books and sci-fi movies are delightfully entertaining but alas. We have no people with the ability to neither soar through the atmosphere unaided nor leap skyscrapers in a single bound. No one person can turn themselves into a super strong block of ice nor cloak themselves in invisibility. In short, we have no Superman. What we do have is the potential for super men and women.
It is imperative that we dream about a better tomorrow and more specifically, a better self. Nothing else can move forward until we do. The comic book characters and movie representations of those characters enthrall us and also offer some wonderful life lessons. They give us hope and, at the same time, serve as reflections of our fears and dreams.
At some point, most of us have felt invisible. It seems thrilling for someone in a story but to walk among the crowds and feel invisible is actually very painful. We want to belong, not be ostracized. The character Wolverine is seen as handsome and strong. Having become a mutated human through a tragic accident, his claws are as steel and he can rip his enemies apart. We often feel ripped apart by the words of others and have probably been tempted to respond in like fashion. I ask you this, though: Have you ever seen Wolverine smile?
The first step to a better life is a better being. It is a process and it takes time but first we must envision it, envision a better self. The journey can be rough and tough-going, as J.R. R. Tolkien eloquently described. “All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
Two of my favorite quotes about this come not from writers but from scientists. It may seem strange but what after all is science but the envisioning of a better world, based upon the past and the present? Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We often forget to apply that in our lives. We may go to bed at night not having accomplished our goals for that day but we did not fail. We simply learned other lessons, some of which were things not to repeat again.
The other quote is something Albert Einstein once said. “A human being is part of the whole called by us [the] Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself; his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by weaning our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
We need to embrace ourselves as part of nature’s beauty, envisioning a more positive self-image and believing we can be better than we are. In short, we need to dream a better self. Harriet Tubman was born a slave and spent her life seeking a better self, difficult since she lived under laws that sought to suppress her becoming that. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
When we dream and believe we can be more than we are, we open the door and take the first step towards making it a reality. Once accomplished, even in small increments, the better you will lead to a better world.