All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
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 jazz scene in Collateral:
What can we learn?
Answer the call to adventure. Being born is our biological moment of conception. Everyone experiences that. But realizing why we were born, that’s our artistic moment of conception. And for those fortunate enough to have that realization, nothing is more inspiring. It’s our principal identity achievement. The awakening of the soul. The point of no return. The first step into egoic tension as we start the journey of love finding itself in us. Campbell famously named this moment the call to adventure, in which the hero goes forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure. And what’s interesting is, it doesn’t always come crashing in like a wrecking ball. The call can come through a blunder, a gradual realization, even a cataclysmic event. Daniel’s moment of conception was a concert. His call to adventure commenced on a smokey underground bandstand during the swinging sixties. When was yours? The point is, every artist has one. And it’s their responsibility to honor that moment of conception. Doing so implants the necessary humility to stay both sane and successful in the arts. Are you running away from your gifts?
Become a friend of flow. Daniel’s story is about an artist entering flow state. How a person can become focused, fierce and absorbed, enclosed in their musical headspace, experience pure spirited essence, behave as if the thermostat on his imagination was set permanently on high, and disappear into his work while staying completely relaxed in the process. I’m reminded of a fascinating documentary called Happy, which explores human happiness and the newest findings of positive psychology. I particularly enjoyed their research on flow, which proved that people who experienced flow on a regular basis were happier. Turns out, activities in which we have very clear goals, and know, moment by moment, what we’re supposed to do, help us feel in control. The secret, then, is twofold. First, building a diverse repertoire of activities guaranteed to provide the experience of flow. That way, you can step into a healthier, happier state when sadness creeps in. And second, keeping an ongoing and cumulative record of the flow activities you manage to accomplish each day. That way, you create a progress rich environment that emotionally invigorates you and prompts continued creative action. What experiences make you disafuckingppear from plain sight?
Find your homebase. Daniel knew as a young player, what mattered was being around the music. For him, it wasn’t about making money from music, it was about making a life in music. Treating creativity as a holistic experience and existing in a way that his art got done over and over. But that’s not just music. His approach applies to any art scene. It’s not about having a hit, it’s about having a homebase. A place where you can commune your your fellow artists and audience members. A place where you can surround yourself with a vision of what you might one day become. A place where you can lock into the historical, societal and institutional frameworks of the artistic world. And the best part is, it doesn’t even have to be a physical place. Homebase can be analog or digital. What matters is that you’re not alone. That you’re consistently cocreating with others. Gruber called this a gradualistic approach to creativity, whereby the creative product is subordinate to the creative moment, the creative moment is subordinate to the creative process, and the creative process is subordinate to the creative life. Have you invited yourself into a community of good fortune?
What's your favorite movie moment of conception?