Two weeks ago, I posed this question to many of you: “Name at least one feature of the kind of world you aspire to live in.” I found your answers to be inspiring. For one thing, there was so much consistency. Here are the seven most popular responses, in order:
Creativity and Play
In 24 hours, I received 100 responses. What you described for me is your vision of utopia. When Thomas More came up with this term, utopia, he meant it as a pun because it could be derived from one of two Greek words meaning either a “good place” or “no place.” Our ideal society may exist only in our imagination, but that is where all human creations begin. If we cannot envision it, we most certainly cannot create it.
The good news is that we can come up with a fairly cohesive vision of the kind of society and world we want to create. It took a day for all of you who took part in my informal survey to paint a picture of this ideal place. I believe that if we assembled a global council charged with the task of generating a utopian vision for our planet, we would arrive at consensus about its basic qualities, which would include most if not all of the features you identified in your responses.
The bad news is that this utopian vision seems unattainable to most of us. In a separate survey, I asked for your take on the following statement made by comedian George Carlin a few months before his death: “It’s circle-the-drain time for humans.” The vast majority of you agree with Carlin’s position that the demise of our species is inevitable.
Why is that? The problem is that we don’t know how to get from Point A to Point B. It is one thing to envision utopia and another thing entirely to create it. The forces that have to be overcome appear insurmountable. These include runaway greed, intolerance, short-sightedness, and a seemingly insatiable lust for power.
But the quest for utopia is not a fool’s errand. In fact, I would argue that we have no choice in this pursuit. It is built into our biology. Our basic instinct as parents is to seek a better life for our children. Only the most selfish and dysfunctional parents lack this drive.
We have a parental duty to future generations. All the children of the world, present and future, are our children. We must make sure that the world they inherit from us is richer not poorer; more beautiful; more peaceful; teeming with life; and guided by love, kindness, compassion and respect.
If we give ourselves completely to the task of creating a better world for the next generation, we will succeed, but only if we have the right tools at our disposal. Such tools will allow us to magnify our vital creative energy and direct it with precision towards the realization of our common vision.
Here is what I have learned about these creative tools after three decades of research and exploration: They have to engage the entire body and not just the mind. In fact, the mind can be an enormous obstacle to creativity. My TEDx talk, “The Art of Creative Inspiration,” focuses on a body-centered approach to major creative breakthroughs. That approach is generally undervalued by those who study, write and teach about creativity, which is why the video of this TEDx talk has been gaining momentum recently, with 1000 new views in the past month.
When you learn to channel the creative power of your body, you can create an entire universe. This is not hyperbole. I know what it feels like to have all of creation emerge from deep inside of me during moments of inspiration. At such moments my imagination is free to go anywhere or to create anything. And my intuition allows me to absorb and internalize any or all of it.
One of the secrets to realizing a utopian vision is to use this vision as a filter. Although the bodies we inhabit can give birth to a whole universe, there are only certain parts of that universe we want to keep. Virtually every artist knows that creativity is in large part a process of omission. French sculptor Auguste Rodin observed, “I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.”
This is where the mind and body come together in the act of creating. First you allow all possibilities to flow through your body, and then you use your mind’s capacity for discernment to capture those elements that serve your vision while surrendering those that don’t.
As I have noted elsewhere, a creative revolution is coming. Why? Our species is in dire need, and as Plato noted, “Our need will be the real creator.” We can create utopia together. It’s a matter of sacrifice, determination, and mastery of the skills needed to usher in a positive new era. Who's in?
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