If the mind is endlessly complex then our imagination is even harder to decipher. Have you ever noticed how easily we can imagine ourselves into certain emotional states like fear or hope? Walking alone on a magnificent beach in the private island of Emboodhu Finolhu where the renowned Taj Exotica Maldives is located, I stared past those enamoring turquoise waters at what seemed to be a growing cluster of gray clouds looming off in the distant blue horizon. Now, these clouds weren’t the normal type you see coming from far away… these were significantly further. When you’re in the Maldives you’re on these paradise-like islands in the middle of what many of us call nowhere because we are not from there, we don’t live there and have never visited there. What’s interesting is that you’re so far away from land that the horizon looks different from other places and things like monsoons or bad weather systems can be hovering over the Indian Ocean thousands of miles away and you can still see them because they blur a tiny part of that vertical horizon. What I’m saying is that there are so many situations in life that might be off somewhere in the distant horizon, but we can believe they are so much more near than what we fathom because we are allowing our imaginations to operate in a negative way. So there I was in paradise, newly arrived when I realized my mind was trying to hijack the beauty of that idyllic moment!
First, I noticed what my imagination was doing: for whatever reason my brain imagined those clouds arriving with whiplashing lightning battering down on my deluxe ocean villa along with waterfall levels of rain. Then I imagined what type of creatures could be gliding under the blue calm water extending so marvelously before me. My brain told me there were all types of potentially hazardous predators waiting for the moment I’d step into these idyllic waters to sneak up on me and make me the first tourist to ever vanish without a trace on this super five-star resort. Mind you, the water is so shallow you can walk for miles unencumbered and the most dangerous animal there is probably a seagull. What’s my point? I took three steps back and asked myself: why in the world is my brain going to such a dark place? Well, the answers could be many. Jet lag perhaps? Or too much extraordinary tuna tar tar? By the way, quick side note… the best bluefin tuna in the world comes from this region of the world so you can imagine that when you eat fresh tuna dishes at the Taj Exotica and you’re a fan of raw fish plates well, you’re in taste bud heaven. It’s also the healthiest thing you can eat; especially in a beach destination where we might want to look our best for camera or our significant other! Back to the story…
Thinking about imagination I realized that it can quickly become a cruel master if we allow it to lead us everywhere it wants to go. I smiled and took a deep breath and actively decided to change the internal movie that my moody mind was playing for no apparent reason. I looked at the delicious water and its ever-changing rainbow of blue tones stretching out before me. I noticed a happy couple swinging gently inside a hammock suspended over the water a few hundred meters away. I felt like going for a swim.
Further, in the distance, the welcoming team threw flower petals at new arrivals that were carried on the wind like kisses greeting their cheeks to the beat of drums and smiles. I took a deep breath and remembered that there was a lot to be grateful for. As for that seemingly looming storm way off in the distance well, if it ever came we’d deal with it then. You know what? It actually did come! The result? It ended up causing us to stay three extra days! Ha! Take that storm. What I was worried about actually ended up being a blessing! How often that happens doesn’t it? I won’t lie to you… as of this writing I’m still not one of those let me jump into the ocean anywhere people but I’ll say that my Maldives experience, from the snorkeling to the scuba diving trips helped me to realize that the creatures that are beneath the surface are there to go about their lives and don’t seem to pay much attention to my own. The sharks are all babies and the grown-ups eat fishes no larger than the size of one of my hands, so we actually look way more scary to them than they do to us. Now I can’t vouch for those sea turtles, but I’m guessing those are harmless too. What was the lesson then? Everything we create begins with our imagination.
Taking time to reflect on what we are allowing ourselves to imagine while leaving space to actively imagine beautiful and inspirational things are key ingredients for us to live happy lives. There’s a Bible verse that says: as a person thinks so they become. Another saying goes something along these lines: “Watch your thoughts for they become your words, watch your words for they become your actions, watch your actions for they become your habits, watch your habits for they become your character and watch your character because it will become your destiny.” What I’m trying to say is this, if I’m going to think about any given scenario or situation I’d rather use hope-colored glasses because those lead us to thoughts of gratitude, which generate joy and that often leads to inspiration. Properly harnessed imagination always leads to inspiration. We must learn to have self-control over our imagination so we can use it for our benefit! Speaking of which, you know what I’m going to go imagine now? Tuna tar-tar at the deep end restaurant in the Taj Exotica Maldives. Now that’s what I call some tasty inspiration. Yummy. Enjoy the ocean water the next time it’s before you… and remember to watch out for those sea turtles!