That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today's clip comes from the grave scene in Kill Bill:
What can we learn?
Bring all of yourself to everything you do. Recently I’ve been studying a textbook called Explaining Creativity. It’s the most comprehensive single volume presentation of what we know about the creative process. It not only considers the arts, but also science, stage performance, the workplace, and creativity in everyday life. Sawyer delves into the strategy of crystalized intelligence, which he defines as the breadth and depth of a person’s accumulated knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to solve problems. Beatrix is a master of this strategy, although it’s uncomfortable to watch. In fact, every time I watch this scene, I feel claustrophobic and sweaty and restless and my knuckles start to hurt. That’s how realistic it is. But the moment that wood first starts to crack, you can’t help but silently cheer. Get out! Get out! Get out! Beatrix shows us what’s possible when we remain calm and trust our resources. Because her life is her preparation. She trusts that everything she’s experienced in her life, up until this very moment, will sufficiently support whatever she does in the next moment. And that’s what allows her to save herself. How are integrating every ripple of life into your creative moment?
Tap into your wellspring of inner strength. Every day when we sit down to write or paint or compose or cook, we have to believe there is something waiting for us. We have to trust our ability to sit down and respond to something. And we have to develop unshakeable faith that no matter how many times we open the box, there will always be something inside of it. The forest will provide, as the aborigines might say. But this mindset is a muscle. It requires daily work. And so, if we have any intention of breaking out of the coffin and clawing our way to the surface, we literally have to announce to ourselves, only a daily basis, that we are well equipped with sufficient internal assets to be successful. I’ve used mantras, meditations, affirmations, journaling, even morning pep talks in the bathroom mirrors, and they all work. They guarantee nothing, but they do allow for the possibility that I can perform in a creative, centered way. The point is, our inclination is to rely on an external force to get our creative work moving in the right direction. But most of the time, we’re reaching for something that’s already inside of ourselves. It’s simply a matter of mindset. Do you believe that who you already are is enough to get what you want?
You will use everything you’ve ever learned. Beatrix apprentices under a legendary martial arts master who humiliates, beats, starves, insults and tortures her, day in and day out, for months. But as excruciating as the process is, she knows it’s the only way to equip herself with the proper tools to defeat her enemy. That’s what I love most about this scene. Beatrix closes the trust loop. All her hard work finally pays off. Even though her enemy is only three inches away, she’s able to snap back into her training and set herself free. Because she had faith in the process all along. Even in the darkest days of her past, she chose to love whatever happened, stayed with her training and trusted that it would lead her to where she ultimately wanted to go. That’s exactly how the creative process works. Nothing is wasted. Every idea eventually finds a home. And so, each day we sit down to create, we ought to practice that same level of trust. To realize that something is happening to us, that life has not forgotten us, and that it holds us in its hands and will not let us fall. What will your training today accidentally prepare you for tomorrow?
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