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 lowrider scene from Gone in Sixty Seconds:
What can we learn?
Inspiration is the ultimate survival mechanism. Ritual is a proven way to reduce anxiety. It’s how artists mark the movement from the everyday rush of regular life into the calming focus of creative time. Randall’s theme song fires up the team and prepares them for battle, but also ceremonially creates a calming environment to move them effortlessly into the trance of working. Even if they give him strange glances, they know he must be faithful to his own eccentric nature. The music is the associative trigger that creates the conditions to elicit his best work, and they have to respect that. The lesson, then, is that everything we do is part of the creative process. Even if we’re sitting in stillness, entering into the appropriate state of mind to do our work, it all matters. People overlook the basics of a productive life. They try to complicate their creative processes with sophisticated systems and software programs and time saving tools, when the reality is, all they need to give shape and forward meaning to something is a kick ass soundtrack. These are the simple rituals that reduce the experience of anxiety and lock us into peak creative performance. Have you discovered what your own inner ecology has to be in order for you to create?
Anything that takes you back. Campbell famously said that all ritual is the enactment of a myth, and by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. He was right. Ritual turns duty into celebration, turns tedium into meaning and turns disconnected events into an ongoing story. I don’t know how people create without it. Personally, I can make almost any experience more meaningful by layering an intentional, purposeful and meaningful ritual on top of it. It’s all in how you frame the activity. Randall’s pregame ritual is a comprehensive multisensory experience. He thanks his teammates, which engages his heart through gratitude. He plays his favorite song, which engages his ears through sound. He lays out his custom tool roll, which engages his hands through touch. He unwraps his special car stealing jacket, which engages his nose through smell. And he incants an encouraging mantra to himself, which engages his spirit through meditation. That’s how he creates an act of control in a moment of chaos. He may be a criminal, but he’s also an inspiring example of how to ease into the creative process. What rituals are you known for?
Be a creator, not just an appreciator. What bothers me most about television is, we’re spending thirty hours a week watching other people work. Instead of creating things from whole cloth, we’re anesthetizing ourselves in front of a screen while other people are running restaurants, making moonshine, selling houses, designing dresses, driving trucks, writing comedy, fixing cars and chasing storms. Instead of getting to work ourselves, we’re investing massive amounts of time and energy and emotion in other people’s art, fetishizing their creative process, walking around their museums, engaging in endless conversations about their lives. Yes, being a fan is a necessary feature of the creative life. We still have to know what great art feels like. But as an artist, the only discipline that counts is the discipline to create regularly. It can have no other meaning. Everything else is shadow work. Disciplining ourselves to publish sophisticated book reports of other people’s work is commendable, but doesn’t make us creators. If we want to get on with the real work of making real art in the real world, we need to create something from whole cloth. Something that’s ours. Something that shows people how we see life. Are you watching other people create or establishing routines of your own?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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