Friends Help Bring Wild Ideas to Life

The Solitude of Our Imaginations

We dream big, wild, wonderful ideas in the solitude of our own imaginations. (Most of the time, at least.) It’s a pretty glorious thing to ride what philosopher Gaston Bachelard calls ‘the voyage into the land of the infinite.’  The seas can be as wide and deep as we wish, and the voyage as truly infinite as we’ll allow ourselves, with no one injecting deadly practicality into the mix. Infinity can be so intoxicating, such a marvelous ride.

But there’s a point in that voyage (the vanishing point, maybe?) where if we simply continue onwards, we can inifinity ourselves right past an idea. We can either get it so expansive that we can’t really even see it any more, or tire ourselves on the voyage and manage to convince ourselves as we come up for air that it was just a flight of fancy, not worthy of actually trying to embody. And that is anything but intoxicating. I find it can leave me with something of an imaginal hangover, feeling enervated rather than energized. That’s a first point of fear, that can shut us down.


How Friends Help Bring Wild Ideas to Life

That’s a first moment that friends become really important. The right friends help bring wild ideas to life.  Having a playmate who’s willing to don the tin foil hat with you and try on the idea is invaluable. The tin foil hat is important, so they can abandon the need to be a responsible voice pointing out all of the ways what you’re dreaming is impossible. They can ground you, giving you a chance to give voice to the visions swirling in your head, without running you aground.

Along the way, friends (and colleagues, co-conspirators, advisors, and playmates of various shapes) can play a whole array of important roles……inspiration, resources, advice, the occasional ‘you rock’ and periodic kick in the pants…

But that first time you have the courage to give life to your wild idea by saying it aloud is a big deal. There’s a whole lot of thought about how powerful it is for humans to speak something into being – from religious traditions to neurological research. Say it to the wrong person, and they can deflate its magic almost instantly. Say it to the right one, and they can help you shape it into something that begins to have form.


Finding the Right Tin Foil Hat Playmate

So, for this moment, we need to look for people just as wildly crazy as we are. They may not get exactly what we’re dreaming up (because one of the most magical things about thinking something new is that it hasn’t ever happened exactly the way we’re dreaming it), but they’ll get the power of dreaming. New ideas are fragile.

It can be tough to find that right person. Sometimes it is someone right next to you – spouse or family member or close friend. And sometimes they’re exactly the wrong person, because they’ve got all sorts of feelings about you and what you are doing in the world, and (generally) really want you to succeed, but may have a different investment in what that success means.

Sometimes it might be a relative stranger. Or someone who has dreamt their own wildness into life. Or is wrestling with capturing their own idea enough to dance with it. Sometimes you need to bring the metaphorical box of tin foil with you and just set it lightly on the table to see if they’ll pick it up and start making their own hat. That’s a good sign!


Who Do You Know Who Will Make Their Own Hat?

Who in your life might do this? We all know people who live in the play of ideas. Grab them, feed them wine and maybe donuts (because, donuts), and ask them if they’ll be willing to hear the first stuttering iteration of an idea that you think you might love. And don’t be shy about telling them that you’re not sure, that you’re vulnerable about it, and that you’re not looking to have it either validated or critiqued so much as just heard, so you can start to understand if it actually might have form.

What’s most important is that it’s someone who loves the idea of impossible ideas. And who loves to play. Because in this moment, it isn’t about whether or not it’s real, or practical, or sensible, but instead, beautiful and delicious. And by listening and savoring it with you, help you start to figure out if it reverberates in you in ways that build, rather than diffuse. There will be plenty of moments to decide if it’s a good idea, one that you want to work on making tangible. But as you say it aloud for the first time, you should just be able to try it on and see how it feels. And then eat the donuts.

How have you found tin foil hat playmates? How have you found friends who can help bring wild ideas to life? Would love to hear your thoughts! (And there might well be some good playmates there commenting…)