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  • It may sound strange to locate the problem here,  

  • but in some of our most despairing moods, what  goes wrong is our power of imagination. We are  

  • not merely 'sad'; we cannot imagine any better  life than the agonised one we currently have.  

  • What we really mean by imagination is the power  to summon up alternatives. When we are down,  

  • we can't imagine finding another job or  not minding what the gossip says about us.  

  • We can't imagine finding another partner  or letting ourselves trust someone again.

  • But on the other hand with sufficient imaginationalmost any problem can be worked around. If one  

  • door has closed, the imagination should in time  be able to find another. There are other cities we  

  • can go to, there are completely new sorts of work  we could try. There are places we can travel where  

  • no one knows who we are. There are lovers who  will have a very different approach to intimacy  

  • than those we have known to date. The oceans are  so large and beautifully unconcerned with us.

  • We are grown-ups, that is, people with choicesWe are not the small children we once were who  

  • had to depend on their parents for everything  and were imprisoned by narrow circumstances.  

  • We would be able to build ourselves a small hut on  the edge of the desert. We can change our names.  

  • If we're feeling shy and defeated, we don't have  to go out and see anyone ever again. We can live  

  • by ourselves, mind our own business. We can go mad  for a while and then recover; a lot of people do.

  • We could throw ourselves into learningnew language or take a university degree in  

  • Sanskrit by correspondence course. We can find  the love we need; we only require two friends,  

  • or even just one, to get by. Many people might be  cruel, but a few are infinitely compassionate and  

  • kind and we can go out and find them and not let  them go.  

  • We don't have to stick  

  • by the script we thought we'd be following all  our lives. We might have wanted to do sobut  

  • we are profoundly flexible creatures. When  we arrived on the earth, our mental wiring  

  • was loose enough that we could have developed  into excellent foragers in the Kalahari desert,  

  • Latin scholars in a university or accountants in  the logistics industry. Our biology is elastic.

  • We may have lost a little of that  primordial flexibility and latitude,  

  • it might no longer be so easy to pick  up new languages or physical moves,  

  • but we remain eminently equipped to acquire new  tricks. Other peoplenoble and interesting other  

  • peoplehave been here before us. There have  been exiled Russian princes who learnt how to  

  • become tennis teachers, émigré South Vietnamese  army generals who started American kindergartens;  

  • divorcees who remarried; shamed  executives who opened corner shops.

  • In order to increase our chances of fulfilmentwe need to feed and massage our imaginations.  

  • Whatever way we happen to be living, we should  constantly force ourselves to picture different,  

  • more arduous but still bearable ways to be. We  could think about how we might survive without  

  • any friends, without a reputation, without healthwithout any love, without much money. As part of  

  • their creative writing classes, adolescents  should be asked to produce narratives titled:  

  • If I lost everything and had to start up again, I  mightThey could be asked to make a list of the  

  • 20 things that currently make life meaningfulthen have to cross them all off and find 10 more.  

  • Only a few of us will ever need to  write short stories for a living,  

  • very many of us will be called upon by  fate to rewrite the stories of our lives.  

  • That is the true destiny and  function of the imagination.

  • When we are very sad, we should be  provoked by the intellectual puzzle before  

  • us: How else might we get by, given  how many possibilities have been  

  • closed to us? How could we fertilise the  dung heap we are on? Our challenge is  

  • to learn to rebuild our futures intelligently  and creatively on the ruins of our old lives.

It may sound strange to locate the problem here,  

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B1 imagination desert imagine find university sanskrit

How to Get Out of a Desparing Mood

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/18
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