Thursday, January 08, 2015

Moments of Conception 149 -- The Poison Frog Dart Scene in Apocalypto

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 poison frog dart scene in Apocalypto:

What can we learn?

The forest will provide. Einstein was a naturalist. He believed that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, was due to the laws of nature. That the imagination of nature was far, far greater than the imagination of man, and that if we kept looking deep into nature, we would understand everything better. And so, as we learn to take our cues from nature, aligning ourselves with the creative seasons, adhering our work with the geometric order and rhythm of life, we have to deepen our belief that the forest will provide. That the land we live off of will never dry up. This belief originates in the creative order, insofar as inspiration and energy and imagination are concerned. We trust in the availability of our own answers and ideas. And we have faith in our ability to sit down and respond to something. Still, believing the forest will provide also delves into the economic order, insofar as opportunity and doing business and receiving remuneration for our efforts. We trust that we alone control the amount of work we do and determine how busy we are. And we have faith that the art we create is necessary, relevant and valuable to the marketplace. The trick, then, in allowing the forest to provide, is our mentality. Because the forest’s abundance is a consequence of our treating its wealth as a gift. And the way we treat something can sometimes alter its makeup. Jaguar has the advantage for this very reason. He may be badly injured, but in his native jungle, his mastery of the creatures and their landscapes allows him to use the forest to gradually whittle down his pursuers. What’s your poison frog dart?

Figure out life through the filter of nature. I made the decision to reinvent my career almost exactly ten years after I started my company. Literally, down to the exact week. And I wondered if there was any significance to such fortuitous timing. So I went for a long walk in the park and ran the following thought experiment. How would this problem be solved in nature? After a few hours, something occurred to me. The number ten is by far the most significant labeling system in nature. Ten is the major organizing principle of the universe. It’s the mathematical base for everything. That’s why decades are such important life markers. There truly is something special about what transpires during a ten year period. That information activated a professional transformation for me. I began to reinvent myself. To enlarge my concept of work. To expand the constellation of my identity as a creator. To keep more of my passions in play. And to mold my definition of a career to fit anything that excited and fed my soul. What’s more, I memorialized my journey to finding the next stone on the path through a collection of songs, which ultimately became the centerpiece of a new concert documentary. That’s what’s possible when we tune into nature’s agenda. How are you remaking yourself as you grow and as the world changes?

Inviting nature as your creative collaborator. Hyde explains that we should look at ourselves as part of nature and not its lord. That we should respond to nature as part of our identities, not as a stranger or alien available for exploitation. This mindset serves us well creatively. It reminds to enable a more visceral and spontaneous contact with our work. Jaguar, a true warrior of the jungle, keeps a sharp eye on the clues for ways to defeat his enemies. Because time is not his ally. If he doesn’t fashion a weapon soon, he’ll never make it out alive. But thanks to his keen powers of observation, he notices the brightly colored poison dart frog. And in that moment, he envisions a solution. He grabs the amphibian, finds a portable creative environment to set up shop, and the two beings cocreate. It’s beautiful. The look on the man’s face is that of focus and creativity and strategy, and the look on the frog’s face is that of service and flexibility and peace. Both understand their role in the jungle. Both contribute to each other. And nobody gets hurt. Proving, that creativity isn’t just knowing a good idea when you see it, it’s executing that idea before anyone else sees it. Because just like in nature, timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. How are you inviting nature as your creative collaborator?

What did you learn from this movie clip?

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Scott Ginsberg
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