On a fairly regular basis, I’m asked about the nature of ideas. More specifically: where do your ideas come from?
Typically I laugh and make a snide-to-snarky comment and lop-sided grin about the birth of ideas akin to the birth of babies – one more titillating, one more compelling than the other.
But seriously. Like babies and boyfriends, they come when you least expect them.
I’ve killed weeks and months at a time in a reverie and daydream, just drifting out in the doldrums.
And I’ve murdered weeks and months at a time drowning in anxious-yet-mundane tasks guaranteed to kill the spirit and livelihood of creativity.
I’ve slaughtered time reading, observing, hearing, watching others’ great (and not-so-great) works, studying their miscues and brilliance.
Time was never really the difference to my great surprise. No matter how I spend my time, the rate or quality of creativity doesn’t change.
And then, while talking, I launch into a monologue proudly proclaiming that it’s different for everyone. That everyone has their ‘ah-ha’ moment no matter what they’re in the middle or beginning or ending or purgatory of.
And then I pause,
But for me,
it’s the welling up of an emotion deep inside me, to the point that if I don’t stop myself, I’ll scream or cry or demons will burst from my abdomen or angels sing from my head and I think I don’t/can’t take another breath – it’s that moment right there I look for because
if I step out of the catharsis, lean back in my chair, close my eyes for a long, slow blink,
that’s when it happens.
It’s simply that ability to purely reflect on what you know and what’s going on around you- all together instantly and without any self-interest other than to get to just one more breath — and shazam, there it is.
it’s then I approach a theory, perhaps as selfish validation:
Nabokov described inspiration as two parts (though he didn’t assign ratios) – the first half as rapture:
“a combined sensation of having the whole universe entering you and of yourself wholly dissolving in the universe surrounding you. It is the prison wall of ego suddenly melting away and the non-eogo rushing in from the outside to save the prisoner – who is already dancing in the open.”
The moment where time ceases to exist. Where there’s no conscious purpose in existence. The idea. The moment lightening strikes shock through the air.
The second half he describes as the recapture – the conscious work of construction. The idea in practice. The thunder following the lightening. As you blurt it aloud and start to reflect on what it is you’re saying and continue in a babbling way trying your damnest to position the idea, put boundaries – it’s always with sparkling eyes and increased tempo (in a gentlemanly fashion – others I’ve known fancy more toward crazy eyes and irregular tremor through the body).
The issue, I pointedly say, is finding your ratio – balancing the lightening and the thunder to fit you. I’ve seen too many taken down by rush for one direction or another, whether by drugs or alcohol, by gluttony or avarice, by talent or lack thereof. All in the hopes of finding something they thought they needed, even though it was there all the time.
In all, I believe, the storm will come. No matter the singing or dancing, the lollygagging or grind. Just be open to more than rain.