Suspension of Disbelief: Unexpected Inspiration from A Dead White Man

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. – Andre Gide

Searching for a little writing inspiration I was looking through creative processes if writers and poets, and onein particular stuck with me. Samuel Coleridge’s suspension of disbelief. Essentially, the concept means that as writers we must be open to what our trained mind would automatically think is impossible, preposterous or unrealistic in order to fully enter into and uncover the full possibility and message of the poem. In doing so, the reader can be free to do the same and experience the poem without reservation or judgement; they can simply engage with the piece. Given that it was a time when fantastic, other worldy poems were out of style, Coleridge was calling for a poetic revival of sorts; one of release and courage to step into uncertainty, whether silliness or sci-fi. This was a nice discovery for me considering I didn’t always dig Coleridge in college. It’s nice to re-examine concepts through more experienced eyes.

So, I got to thinking, what would happen if I expanded this suspension of disbelief beyond my writing to my day to day life? What if I put a moratorium on “can’t,” and literally moved through my day to day life leading with possibility versus limitations? Of course, I’m not talking about crossing the street, or adopting some kind of crazy telekinesis—can’t you just imagine me blinking really hard at a bottle of Belvedere, summoning it to tip over into a sparkling lowball, and complete with lime and 2 (not 3) ice cubes? While it’s a worthy fantasy, it’s not what I’m talking about here. I am exploring this concept with regard to pursuing my passions and being true to the relationships in my life. If disbelief did not color my decisions to take or not take risks, to decide on the destination before I even leave the house, or lament what is not there instead of breathing in what is…what a different life I would lead. It always comes down to the choices I make, right? Do I choose to be consumed by bad choices or be thankful I made it out on the other side with at least half my sanity (ok, maybe a little less than half.)? Do I choose love or fear?

I am often discouraged by people around me who literally get energy from pointing out the shortcomings of others, look forward to the failures of friends/family, and are silent and uncomfortable in the midst of positive comment. The older I get, and the more convicted I am to live my best life, the less time I can give to these folks. One of my dearest friend reminds me I must always guard my heart, and that while we cannot dictate the behaviors of others, we can choose how and even if we take that shit in to our spirit. I vote no on that more and more because it cripples that suspension of disbelief–in myself, in the blessings that are on the way, in what lives on the other side of risk.

I will move through uncertainty expecting the extraordinary. Cuz God and Samuel Coleridge said so. So there, haters.

20140809-141016-51016826.jpg– “The Lioness” by Kadir Nelson


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