Everything touches Everything.
Imagination is a tool of possibility and possibility requires practice.
Part One: The River Game
"Like everything that's ever lived...this river comes from behind. Like way behind! Thousands of miles behind us, thousands of years behind us, maybe light years even! And this river, it moves...Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly...all the way, smack dab, up against, the back of your body...Here it is...Now we got a choice...Do you let it in?" -Excerpt from Playing the Game
Contemplative practice employ imagination as tools for exploring and expanding our understanding of consciousness and self. In Playing the Game, Denise invites audience members to play a few imagination games as part of the story: stepping into the life of a river and the life of a tree. But how could imagining the life and intelligence of a river impact our understanding of who we are personally and collectively?
Well to start, we are in a cultural moment of significant division that is destroying our relationship with each other, ourselves and the earth. While this is not new, a global pandemic and the ongoing violence against black and brown people have amplified these already existing divisions. Right and wrong. Good and bad. Us and them. Me and you. Pick a side.
This division makes it difficult to imagine and empathize with an experience that is other than our own. When I'm committed to the viewpoint that "I'm right," I notice that my whole body tightens as if to hold this "rightness" inside of me with all my effort. For what? To be right. I also notice that my level of curiosity about the other person's experience is minimal if not non-existent when I'm holding on to being right. I become rigid, tight, unforgiving and unable to see anything outside of this moment of frustration, pain and anger.
And what of a flowing river? A river is water, it is yin. And how does water engage with something rigid, firm and unforgiving. It softens. It allows for movement and fluidity.
Rivers also reflect local, upstream, downstream and broader environmental conditions. Everything touches everything. So let's imagine that we, in this present moment, are sitting inside of a much larger river of life...one that starts way behind us, moves through us and off into a distance that we can't see anymore. How might this imagining support our bodies, our minds and our spirits' ability to live into and create different futures in which all living beings are healthy, supported and cared for?