The human being, like all beings, participates in the creativity of the Universe in its unique way—less through biological transformation than through culture: we use symbolic language to give meaning—uniquely human meaning—to our world. In this way, we create the world as the ecological world is created through evolutionary processes. In the womb of the ecosystem, relationships are cultivated that give rise to novelty. Human beings enter into this process, too, but add a unique approach: we have the capacity, through the imagination, to give birth in the present to that which does not yet exist.
Imagination is not merely ideas about the future; it is the birthing of possibility in the present moment, the womb of creative potential. The language of the mystic is metaphor and poetry. It is this language that touches us in ways that truly affect our basic assumptions about the world. To give birth to a new worldview requires more than ideas, but also their creative expression. The way we connect to the world is not generally through discursive reason, but through the connections we feel, connections that are evoked through participation in the creative process of the mythmaker.
We have a choice to make: cling to the old stories and descend in to fascism or find new stories to bring forth a new world. The role of the poet is to bring forth new worlds with new words. Only a small part of this work is what happens when pen meets paper. The real work is when one encounters the world in novel ways, with the playfulness of a child; when one experiences the texture of the world, its depth and subjectivity; and when one risks falling in love with the world, flawed and sorrowful as it is.
Theodore Richards is a philosopher, professor, poet, and Founder and Director of the Chicago Wisdom Project, editor of Reimagining Magazine, and award-winning author of books such as Cosmosophia, and The Great Re-imagining: Spirituality in an Age of Apocalypse.