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 haircut scene in Edward Scissorhands:
What can we learn?
Mixing up your vehicles helps you stay innovative. Edward begins by trimming the hedges. Then he starts grooming the neighborhood dogs. Soon he’s cutting the hair of the housewives. And by the end of the movie, he’s creating ice sculptures that create an effect of falling snow. It’s not just a reminder to create art, but also to explore new ways of being an artist. To search for new methods to circulate our views and extend our sentiments. The hard part is, we have to trust our audience, believing that if people really do value our work and appreciate us as creators, they will follow us down whatever new corridor we travel. Dylan, for example, recorded over forty studio albums, but he also published six books of painting and drawing. According to his biography, visual arts always played a significant role in his worldview. Drawing and painting served as an outlet for his huge creative energy. And once he finally began to use those mediums to reveal yet another dimension of his poetic vision, his audience responded to his extraordinary talent and treasured the work. Dylan’s paintings were shown in dozens of galleries and exhibitions around the world. And visual arts became one more shelf in his creative room. How can you avoid limiting yourself to one vision of your creative capabilities?
Going into the world. Edward’s inventor suffered a heart attack and died during his process of creation, leaving the young man unfinished forever. That’s why he’s spent most his life as a recluse, living in his hilltop mansion. But once he comes down that hill and meets the world, everything changes. He finds family, finds love and finds a home for all of his talents. Yet another example of what’s possible when we participate in the we. Humans, after all, understand the self in the context of other people. And if we truly want the highest understanding of who we are, eventually, we have to reach for the other. We have to cocreate with people. This movie always struck a social cord with me. Because for the first twenty years of my songwriting life, I treated music as an escape. As a way to hide from the world. Until one day, I read an interview with one of my songwriting heroes, who famously said, you have to get out of the basement and go out and play for people. That sentence changed my inner geography. Something very real inside of me shifted that day, and I haven’t been the same since. And so, now I perform every week. I’ve come out of music hibernation, hungry and active for nourishment. I don’t need to hide from the world anymore. Music let me share another part of my heart. Playing and singing songs in real time, in front of real people, about real emotions, is fulfilling on a level that is hard to express. Will you let the craving for togetherness trump the seductiveness of isolation?
Leaving no creative asset unharvested. Edward is putting himself on the line in front of an audience. First, by trimming shrubs and dogs, and later by sculpting real human hair. That’s what I love most about his creativity. People keep laying down track in front of his train. They use him like every part of the buffalo, tapping into his natural genius and talents. And for the first time in his life, Edward has purpose. He can finally use his gifts to contribute something of value to the world. The danger, however, is that he has no conception of boundaries. No moral code. Since he’s been living without a sense of reality and common sense for his whole life, he doesn’t realize he’s being taken advantage of. And so, housewives attempt to seduce him, kids take advantage of him, even bullies exploit his ability to pick locks and break into people’s homes. Because they know he’ll say yes. It’s a devastating reminder that if we don’t set boundaries for ourselves, other people will set them for us. And then they will violate them. And they will tell all their little friends to violate them too. All because we failed to set a precedent. Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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