Pat B. Allen

Imagination is a Solvent

Imagination is a solvent. Imagination is a solve – vent. When we live our life from the place of the imagination, two capacities become available that are crucial for times of change and upheaval. The first is the capacity to solve. To solve, to salve, to soothe. Solve need not be an immediate fix, it can be to hold, witness, to comfort. First things first. First, the imagination calls for curiosity. What is this that needs to be solved? How does it feel? What does it weigh? What are its properties?

The second property of imagination is the skill to vent. Vent: to let go. To move energy through, to let something out through a small space, but safely. It is an act of care to vent. I give a space for what is difficult, pressured, and hard to get out of its close quarters but do so with compassion and care. To do so in such a way that might even solve something.

Imagination is a solvent. A solvent is something that dissolves. That salves, that solves, that dissolves that which is crusted over and stuck and without softness, devoid of ease. To vent the toxic gases of fear, of anger, of rage, of shame, of frustration, of disappointment is an act of care.

Imagination begins with the letter “I”. The “I” of me must see an image. The “I” of me becomes the Mage, magician, does magic. To invent, to come up with that which is new, something that may solve, soothe, salve — if I can vent the miasma that protects what hurts.


Pat B. Allen is an artist, art therapist, and the author of books such as Art Is a Spiritual Path: Engaging the Sacred through the Practice of Art, and Writing and Art Is a Way of Knowing: A Guide to Self-Knowledge and Spiritual Fulfillment through Creativity.

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