Songs for the Struggling Artist

Real Talk About Imagination

Real Talk. I am not actually a dragon. I wish I was one. But I’m just a human lady person who is impossibly angry. I am not actually a witch, either. Surprise. I have often dreamed of having such powers but I don’t, in fact, possess any particular skill in magic.

What I do have, though, is a well-practiced imagination and an understanding of the powers of make believe. Sometimes pretending makes things better.

I mean, I have been a rage fountain these last couple of weeks – just spinning around and round, watching rage pour forth from me like a sprinkler. It comes out in situations that do not merit such a response and after a lifetime of being nice and sweet and making things easy for everyone around me, I do not really know how to handle my new rageful reality. Imagination and embodied expression are my only safe outlets. And what’s wild is how it actually works sometimes.

For example, as my friend and I stood talking next to the subway entrance, some man in khaki pants seemed to find us terribly compelling. He walked by us a couple of times and finally started to approach us. We did not stop our conversation or look at him but I opened my hand, made a little whooshing sound and combusted him in my imagination and darned if he didn’t just turn around and walk away. That’s magic.

The thing of it is – now is the time for fierce imagination. It is not going to be possible to free ourselves from the dystopia ahead of us without some really bold and vivid dreaming.

In simply imagining a world wherein I am as powerful as a dragon, wherein the world is re-made with women unafraid to walk down the street at night or anywhere, everywhere, I find it very hard to return peaceably to the world we live in. I cannot tolerate the old stories. I cannot stomach victim blaming. I am newly and freshly furious that women have had to accommodate ourselves to a world that has not seen us a human beings for five thousand years. It’s as if I’ve woken up in new horrible world but I’ve been living here the whole time.

I don’t want to see one more woman raped or murdered on screen. I don’t want to see any more harassment on the street. I don’t want to see a single woman disempowered. I don’t want to watch one more wife in a sitcom get laughed at and dismissed. It feels like the only thing I can tolerate now is some other more imaginative world.

We need our dreamers now. We need our sci fi creators, our afro-futurists, our utopian other worlds. I have no stomach for anything else. I know it is virtually only in our imaginations that women can have real authority or agency or power – but imaginations can turn into reality and can lead to real life transformation. It’s time to get to work with high level imagination.

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The Tyranny of a Dream
October 3, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: dreams, Entries with songs attached | Tags:

Everyone says “Never give up on your dreams.” Or, at least your average film or children’s book will repeat it a few times. It’s a maxim that most of us would support.

“Should you ever give up on your dreams?”

Say it with me now,


Yes, yes, it’s true. You should never give up on your dreams. Especially if you’re a little wooden puppet who dreams of being a real boy, then, yes, yes, by god, you should very definitely not give up. I think we can all agree on that.

However, I gave up on a dream of mine recently and it feels amazing. It’s an extraordinary relief, like I’ve suddenly stopped banging my head against a wall.

Now, I didn’t give up on this dream of my own free will, I have to say. If I’d felt I had a choice, I might have banged my heard against that wall forever – but life said “Hey. That wall is not a door and it’s not going to open right now.” So I stopped pounding on it, despite the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that seemed to shout “How DARE you give up on your dream?!?!”

To keep myself sane, I’d say, “I haven’t given up. I’m just re-strategizing.” But now, here on the other side of the dream (and the ocean) I’m sort of delighted to say I gave up. Yep. I gave up. I surrendered! Yippee!! I’m free from the tyranny of my dream! I can do whatever I want to, now that I’m not expending all my energy trying to achieve the damn dream!

It was a nice dream. But NOT scrambling over gravel and alligator pits and what-not to achieve it is even nicer.

So, hey kids! Give up on your dreams! Let ’em fly! Don’t hold fast to them. Don’t grip them tightly.

I think the thing of it is, it’s like anything you love – and that old maxim of “If you love something, set it free” and maybe that dream will come walking back one day.

Listen to  Luck

This song features the line, “Forget that dream.” so I’m posting it here. However, it was written when I was still fighting the surrender with all my strength, so it’s a pretty different perspective. Same artist, different day.

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