Once upon a time, we were all storytellers. Perhaps that time was many thousands of years ago, when our stories adorned the walls of caves. Or perhaps it was just a few short decades ago when you were 5 years old, and your imagination knew no bounds. Your stories were fantastical, mesmerising, limitless. Anything could happen. Anything was possible. Now think about your current life. What role does story and imagination play in your day to day? Do you make time in your day-to-day existence, to imagine things that aren’t currently part of your reality? To be childlike, and dream about what might be.
For me the role of imagination is crucial in solving the most complex and tricky problem our global society faces. Maintaining an imagination practice and flexing our creative muscles allows us to see not so much is – or what we assume there is – but rather, what could be. It helps us to see different ways of doing things. It helps us to know that our current circumstances, both individual and collective, need not dictate the rest of our lives and the trajectory we are on. To imagine means to challenge the status quo. To imagine means to embrace that child-like wonder once more, at the magnificence of life on this planet. To imagine means to recognise that everything around us – our cities, our schools, our governments, our transport systems, our industrial models of production, our currency, even our sense of time – are all consequences of our collective imagining somewhere along the way. And because we imagined all these things into being, we can imagine new ways of meeting our human needs.
What will you imagine into being?
Alina Siegfried is a storyteller, narrative strategist, social innovator, systems change advocate, spoken word artist, former New Zealand Poetry Slam champion (alias Ali Jacs), and the author of the new book, A Future Untold: The Power of Story to Transform the World and Ourselves.