In what has become something of a tradition, this is my annual “wishing you” post that sits in the space between personal and professional. It’s the post that captures some of my reflection on the past year, while also giving myself a grounding for the new year.
Since I’m not a resolutions person, I have found it helpful to ground myself in an idea, or a theme, if you will that is captured in a single word. This word gives me something to return to all year as I work on professional and personal goals. In re-reading the posts from the last several years (links here), I was pleasantly surprised at how well they seemed to capture not only the mood going into the new year, but the ongoing mood of the year itself. But, it could just be hindsight that helps me see the connection between the “wishing you” word and what transpired. 🙂
For 2024, I wish you the ability to imagine.
In any case, I found myself looking forward to writing this post for the last several weeks. And I was fortunate that I started it early since the end of the year went nothing as planned.* The word for this year was inspired from different directions. First, it is a word that is part of my academic book title. I am so super close to finishing a book project that I have worked on for years.# And as I’ve been trying to consider what my next professional steps are it was a word that kept coming up again and again in conversations. Finally, when my brother died in the early fall, I have been continuously reminded of one of our last conversations, where he reminded me of this very word.
I think for many of us of a certain age and for many of us at different times in our professional lives, we become a bit more reflective as we try to imagine what the next phase of our lives may be like. And often this imagining is difficult because somewhere along the way to adulthood and in adulthood we forget the joy and awe that children have. There is a freedom in youthful imagination that would serve us all well if we could figure out how to recapture it. That’s something I’m going to try to do in the coming year—to imagine the silly and frivolous, the serious and significant, the intentional and the happenstance.
Historically, the word imagine and imagination have been associated with creativity and play since the words themselves invoke a concept or something unreal. But there is much to be gained from grasping hold of this aspect of imagine. The self-help philosophy of visualizing things to help you achieve your goals is based on the idea of crafting concrete steps to move you toward an imagined new reality. There is a power in this idea of being able to control part of one’s destiny. Imagining, though, takes courage because it can be frightening to imagine a different life. It is difficult to step into the unknown, it imagine a like that looks different, that is different than the one you’re/we’re living now.
I guess that’s the reasons for resolutions. They become a way to guide or to force or to cajole us into changing parts of our lives we may want to change. I think resolutions often fail because we haven’t done the hard work first. We haven’t figured out what the resolution is for or why it matters. We haven’t imagined how we see ourselves on the other side of the resolution.
I think that’s what I’ve spent a lot of time on in the latter part of 2023. I was trying to imagine what’s next, what that may look like, and what it was that I really wanted from what is next. I don’t have the “answer” or even an answer, but I can say that I am ready to imagine life and its many parts differently.
There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be. (&)
So as 2024 starts and and we enjoy the foods of our cultural superstitions, I wish you, no, I dare you to imagine something different, to imagine a life that is uniquely yours and is your driven by your own imaginings and imagination.
And as always, wishing you health, peace, comfort, and joy.
**As many of you know, my body can be frail, which means I remain hyper-vigilant to keep from getting Covid (or any other icky virus). My vigilance failed me when one of my godchildren’s friends brought covid into the house. So my concerns have been justified and I am still trying to fully get over the awfulness of it.
# Family and non-academic friends: It is not a book that you would find interesting. But, you know I am always grateful for your ongoing support.
& Excerpt from Pure Imagination by Ronald Dahl