The statute of limitations on this post has expired!
Note the date: This post was originally published in 2008 and is kept here largely for archival purposes. Anything older than three years may contain ideas and opinions for which such a gap of time has likely reshaped, altered, softened, re-jigged, or otherwise changed those ideas and opinions to a state incongruent with my current existence.
I was listening to the latest DNTO podcast yesterday on my homeward commute and the topic happened to be, in paraphrase, the ‘origin of good ideas.’ In other words, those great little imagination constructs that are the seeds of incredible things… from whence do they come?
The aforementioned programme alluded to this too, but as a bona fide creative professional my sense is that culturally we are divided into two camps: on one side there are those who believe good ideas are rare and precious, gems to be uncovered from where they are buried in the nooks and crannies of society, and the other side, those who believe good ideas are cheap and abundant, like grains of sand on a beach and only have any value in society when nurtured by the efforts of human consciousness. I’m sure there are numerous roving campers who are scattered in between, but follow along…
Where do I park my tent? I think I fall into the latter camp. Ideas are cheap. Ideas are everywhere. I know this because much of the imbalance and frustration I encounter in life is the result of too many ideas and not enough time to nurture. For me — and I know I’m having a bad day when this fails to be true — ideas fall from the sky like rain. For me ideas are like pennies: they turn up in the funniest places and never seem to be worth much until you collect them together.
This personal reality is likely the cause of my own cultural and creative landscape. Maybe if we think of creativity as an analogy: a global ecosystem not unlike the Earth itself but where most of the planet is covered in mixed landscapes supporting a variety of life-(idea)-giving climates. In some places there are tropical rain forests, others are livably average, others are frozen solid, and still others are barren lifeless deserts. In the ecosystem of the creative mind, I’ve happened to set up shoppe in a quaint little tree house deep in the equatorial forests. I reach out my windows and pluck fresh ideas from the trees each morning, and if I don’t like them let them fall to the ground to compost and feed the next generation of creativity.
The question then becomes not about the worth of ideas, but rather why do some of us end up in mindscapes that are abundant with life and others in creative wastelands where the smallest sapling of creative growth is rare, and something to be nurtured and carefully tended? Do we choose to exist in these spaces, or are we led there by cultural forces? And even more interesting, if we could actually map the mindscapes of all of humanity into a visual image, what would that look like? Would we be living on a lush creative planet with a few scattered moors and deserts. Or would we find ourselves on a barren world with a handful of scattered oases that merely give us a glimmer of false hope against reality?