Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From Nothing

Everything you create is derivative; nothing you can do about it. Grab a couple cans of spray-paint, aim them at a canvas, flail your arms wildly in the air and the very motion of your arms will be a side effect of all you've consumed and processed.

Yet, there's something in each of us that yearns to create, to manufacture something uniquely your own, to be special. But it can't happen. Even the great ideas that we attribute to specific people, historical figures, were the result of derivative thinking. The attribution to an individual is due to her being in the right place at the right time. No doubt others came to the same conclusions, some before, some after. However, the other either didn't see the conclusions as significant or didn't have very good PR.

You might see the impossibility of creating something truly new as depressing. Why go on if I can never be truly unique? You might deny it. You might start qualifying unique (a superlative) with words like very or extremely. Nonetheless there is, as they say, nothing new under the sun.

Another response would be, "So what? What if there is nothing new under the sun? Why should that make a difference to me?"

It would only make a difference if you were concerned about being first or being unique or being recognized. However, if you find joy in the process of creating, then the only qualifier would be that it's new or unique for you. Being a finite creature, no matter how much you've created, there are always infinitely many things that you haven't created. The possibilities for personally unique experiences are limitless.

I'll often walk into a meeting and speak excitedly about my latest discovery or creation. Someone will point out derisively that it's already been done, that I could have simply looked it up if I'd just been a bit more diligent. I'll think aloud, "So what? I enjoyed figuring it out and I didn't have to look it up."

My derider might say, "But you wasted all that time figuring it out when you could just have googled it."

Then we'll both think, "You just don't get it."

Happy Tuesday,

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