Saturday, November 12, 2005
Love and Imagination
Jung-inspired psychologist James Hillman writes about what it takes for a relationship to thrive.
"For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."
This quote jumped out at me because its claim about the importance of imagination for loving (for sustaining loving relationships) has broad implications, it seems to me, about how we should live, and for how we might approach what it means to be "educated." The point is quite simple; we should strive to be imaginative. We should develop the attitudes and assumptions about ourselves and the world around us that encourage imagination, that celebrate creative exploration, that wallow in the shuffle of what's possible. Likewise, this should be the goal of higher education— to foster our human ability to imagine. Being educated means being capable of numerous and diverse relationships (with people, ideas, activities, information, etc.), thriving, evolving relationships that avoid finite or static definition. Imagination makes these kinds of relationships possible. We might even say that the imagining skills of a truly educated person allows him or her to love broadly, to be "in love" in many ways and with many "things."
Perhaps learning to imagine, and to apply that skill as widely as possible, is an important key to how we human beings can find long term satisfaction.