Everyone has their own set of dots they connect in their own original way, some just connect them a bit more uniquely than others.
Music is one of those things in life that we expect and enjoy that other people expand upon, parody versions, karaoke versions, extended versions, versions by other artists, and even remixes.
We understand that music is not one of those things that blossoms out of nowhere, it is the result of inspiration from everything we have ever heard. We don’t claim to own the chords or the notes. We just take them and add our own twist and flavor to them. Much like making a delicious cake, a pinch of this, a dash of that, all mixed together in just the right amount, baked into an incredible creation. So, whether it be the same chords and notes or ingredients, the difference is in the maker, in the mix.
Creativity is much the same way, it is unique to the individual, we each have our own accumulation of knowledge, insights and learnings, our special dots we connect.
Whether as a musician or even a baker, very little we create is brand new and original. Rather, it is how we mix those ideas, those ingredients, how we connect those dots and ultimately, how we mix and bake them together is the point where it all becomes creative and innovative.
According to Kirby Ferguson, “This notion of originality is coming from nowhere is false.” He continues, “We have this romantic notion that ideas just come out of the blue…this visual of the lightbulb going off. Though we have these sparks of insight, these flashes where we suddenly realize something…that doesn’t mean that comes from nowhere.”
The difference is in how we breathe life into those ideas, how we recreate and reconnect those dots in unique and creative ways. Very often we get stuck on the premise that innovation is inventing, creating something that is completely new and original. Rather, creativity is not just in the inventing, it is in connecting.
Connecting ideas in ways that people say, “Why didn’t I see that?”
Much like music, when we play things over and over again it can often get tired and overplayed over time. Very often, the very act of remixing gives us a chance to not only breathe life into something that already exists, but to create something new and exciting. Which takes us back to Kirby Ferguson’s assertion that, “Nothing is original.”
Rather, everything is a remix…
The music we play, the recipes we cook, even the ideas we build upon are not original in their source, but in the way we connect them. It is all in the baking and mixing process that creativity and innovation arise.
And we each benefit the whole when we serve as musicians and bakers, creating and adding our own remixes to the idea factory.
Which is why the connecting and collective sharing of ideas is vital to the ongoing process of innovation. The more ideas and thoughts that we have access too, the more dots we have to connect in creative and innovative ways. As Ferguson adds, “How we create new ideas is by using this remix like technique…by copying things, by transforming them, by combining them.”
And there is no greater time for access to a wealth of ideas than now. We live in a world that is rich and overflowing with ideas and possibilities, just waiting for you to connect your dots. Remixing is no longer just for music anymore. The world is an idea factory and it is waiting for your mix, your own special sound.
Remixing is no longer about what we do to the original rather, it is quickly becoming the new original.
Reading this blog post immediately made me think of a fantastic book I read a while back, Steal Like an Artist, written by Austin Kleon. In particular one passage from the book comes to mind:
“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.” (Jim Jarmusch).
While it is true that nothing under the sun is original, true creativity comes from taking what inspires us and thinking long and hard about how it can make us better. And this depends directly upon what we give back and add to the great idea that has inspired us. There must be an element of giving back to it and doing so honors not only the original idea and creator, but also honors our own capacity to create. Giving gratitude for all of the wonderful blessings that come our way is all a part of this equation in my opinion.
My best work comes from being inspired by others through discussions, through connecting with other educator’s blogs, and by sharing my own creativity. It’s a constant remixing in action every day that makes me the educator I am and moves me forward toward deepening my practice. I could never accomplish this on my own and constantly seek and search for inspiration from others. Thanks for the blog post David.