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 new 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 Neon scene from Blue Chips:
What can we learn?
Learn to compress yourself. What I love about stiletto heels is, they concentrate a large amount of force into a small area. Mathematically, they have an area of about one sixteenth of a square inch per foot. But at the moment when only the heel rests on the ground, each foot exerts pressure of fifteen hundred pounds per square inch. That’s greater than under the foot of an elephant. Stiletto heels, then, become the definitive symbol of compression. They remind us that our body of work doesn’t fully serve us if we can’t concentrate it into a tight little package. And so, part of our job as artists is creating stiletto moments, in which we demonstrate all of our skills at once. That’s what makes our work stick. Because once we show people our accumulated record, not just bits and pieces; once we demonstrate the firepower of our creative arsenal, not just the weapon we’re currently firing; and once we help people taste the full scope of our artistic power, not just the project of the moment, the world will know the depth of our creation. Neon’s stiletto moment happens right there on that court. Within seconds, his size, speed, strength, agility and raw power are undeniable to anyone in attendance. He’s mastered the art of compressing himself. What hidden gift or talent might you have that deserves a more prominent place in your life?
Lucky enough to get out of your ghetto. Neon has had a tragic life. He’s an only child. His mother abandoned him. His father was a fisherman who got into boating accident and was eaten by an alligator. And to make matters worse, he lives in the sticks. His neighborhood is so dangerous that people join the army just to go on vacation. But all of that tragedy is grist for his creative mill. That’s why he owns the paint. Neon’s raw talent is a product of his even rawer environment. Nobody’s ever seen anybody like him before. In fact, he has the potential to become the most dominant center who ever played the game. But only if he’s willing to play a game he’s not used to playing. College hoops are a long way from street ball. And so, if he decides to compete at the college level, everything will change. Neon will have to study and take tests and practice with a coach and play nice with others and shed a false self that’s made up of cultural constructs. Meanwhile, the people in community might become disenfranchised by his success. They might try to keep him in his lane forever, pardon the pun. That’s what makes change so hard. It requires mourning and letting go of a portion of our identities. Are you selling out or outgrowing your origins and changing direction proudly?
Where my dreams begin to turn outward. Every once in a while, a player comes along who is so haunted by talent that we can barely look away. A once in a generation artist who makes us think, whoa, the world cannot be deprived of this person’s magic. When I encounter people like this, I just want to run up and hug them until every drop of talent comes oozing out of their nose for all the world to see. What scares me, though, is that some of those talented people will never become as successful and happy as they could be, since they won’t have the resources to take their talents on the ride they deserve. And so, it’s our responsibility to show them the replay. To grab them by the lapel and reveal what they can’t see for themselves. And to to tell them what they’ve done, why it matters, and why they need to keep taking shots, every day, forever, until it’s all over. We need to be a stand for these people’s greatness. Because without that brand of encouragement–––which costs nothing, by the way––they may never realize how bloody brilliant they really are. Will you stand idly by while someone’s talent gets trapped in a box?
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