Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Moments of Conception 128 -- The Pill Scene from Limitless

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 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 pill scene in Limitless:

What can we learn?

Accumulating firepower into your creative arsenal. Eddie’s new drug allows him to unlock one hundred percent of his brainpower. He finds himself able to learn much faster and recall memories from his distant past. It’s almost like his brain has its own sort of cloud, which stores data, memories and even the most menial of details. At a moment’s notice, a surge of brilliance comes up to meet him, and he’s able to achieve amazing feats. The question is, does this drug exist in real life? Adderall and psychostimulant users might say yes. Psychedelic users might say yes too. Those substances have been clinically proven to enhance brainpower and performance, controversies notwithstanding. On the other hand, there are tons of people who have never popped a pill in their lives, and they’re profoundly and perpetually lucid and focused and productive and energized. They access flow like it’s going out of style. They achieve cognitive ecstasy on a daily basis. And so, whether limitlessness is chemically induced or naturally accessed isn’t the point. What matters is that integration, meaning, employing the whole of our personality, talents, gifts, memories and experiences, is a possibility for everyone. Because each of us walks around with an incredible tool kit. And every day, we build and build upon it, trusting that it will eventually be recognized and put to use. The difference maker is, instead of letting the tools rust, some of us keep employing them any way that we can, until our time comes. How do you embroider the accumulated threads of daily observation into a striking tapestry of innovative thinking?

Hedging your creative bets. Patience can be a invaluable asset for the artist. The capacity to delay gratification, the willingness stay in game long enough to still be around when the world is ready for us, cannot be stressed enough. Then again, there’s a fine line between fertile idleness and waiting in vain. And so, we’re obliged to ask ourselves what waiting is getting in the way of it. Because sometimes patience degrades into myopia. Sometimes we become so patient, waiting so long for the big things, that we let the small things slip right by us. And we inadvertently create a limited field a vision that shields us from exciting new opportunities. Eddie’s drug allows him see everything from every perspective. There isn’t anything he doesn’t interact with. The pill offers him the ultimate awareness plan. A new lens for interacting with the world. That’s something each of us can take away from this movie. That whatever comes to us, good or bad, we still have a responsibility to engage with it somehow. Even if all we do is notice it, we stand in the grace of nonaction. Because it’s still another chance to dance with the universe. To fully participate in the world around us. Are you so busy waiting that you’re unable to notice the opportunities that lead to success?

Ride the energetic wave. The visual effects in this movie are stunning. According to an interview with the director, he wanted the audience to always feel what the character was feeling, zooming along with him. And since the character felt like he was in complete control, the technical aspects of the movie corresponded. The visuals were much more polished, the lighting was softer and they used wider lenses, so it’s all very precise, like you’re actually inside his head. In fact, if you read the comments under the video, people attest to the realism of these visuals. They recall memorable moments of high performance and flow in their own lives, saying that the movie perfectly illustrates how it feels to feel limitless. Eddie’s right. He’s not high. He’s not wired. Just clear. And so, the true moment of conception isn’t when he pops the pill, but when starts channeling the newfound focus that his pill provided. That’s the whole point. Not spending time in our brains as if it were the destination, but using our brains in the service of the work we intend to accomplish. It’s a tool, not a hangout. What kind of relationship do you have with your own mind?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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