I remember being a pretty bored kid in the suburbs looking out the window on rainy days wishing I had a brother or sister or something to push around and get into trouble with. I’d lay on the orange, rust and yellow shag carpet in our old turn of the 20th century house in the 80’s and imagine myself walking along the ceiling legs up, one eye closed to take aim and I’d lift an imaginary leg over the door frame and check out the upside down book case that was floor to ceiling and hop over the light fixtures that were still suspended even though the house was upside down. Then I’d close my eyes and imagine the house on the grass literally on it’s apex perfectly balanced and how I’d walk under the pitch of the roof below the turquoise wood slats and black shutters. I remember how excited and disappointed I was to find that there was already an upside down house in Wisconsin Dells. This is when I started getting the insight that there are really very few absolutely original ideas. If anything taking ideas and building upon them regardless of the source is the productive thing to do - or at least maintain the good ones as everything needs a good dusting off every now and then.
Ego gets in the way sometimes of this - this collaborative building. But often enough, it doesn’t. Masses of wise hidden individuals somehow find each other and make cool stuff. It’s really amazing.Everything from art to streaming code to architecture to music to beer to ... even families. It’s pretty cool.
So what makes all this happen? What compels us? Often things aren’t safe. And they aren’t done for money or even power necessarily. Those are usually the most interesting. Sometimes the money or power or security naturally come, sometimes they don’t - so there’s a risk right there. At some point someone says, Fuck it, I have to know. I have to pursue this. I have to climb this mountain. I have to build the Guggenheim and I am going to use this copy paper and make curves and stick it together and this is going to be the model I show my interns so they can get me the mathematical configurations in which we will base our support structure.
That is nuts. Who does that? Frank Gehry does.
I’m going to rock out some compositions, but I’m deaf. Fuck it - who cares, I’m doing it.
I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables and kill a full on Ironman six times.
I’m going to leave the presidency of the American Medical Association and divorce my jewish wife and leave my conservative life and start a surf school and raise ten kids in a van on the beaches of California.
I’m going to ... set off on an adventure with my fellow dirtbags into Central and South America to go mountaineering and rock climbing and make all my own gear even though none of us have any dough in the bank and eventually grow one of the largest gear and clothing companies with an environmental and social mission. Who knew?
I’m going to... Well, you get the idea.
To carry on, I hear Yvon Chouinard still drinks plain water from the local rivers every month to keep his immune system up. Apparently, on that initial infamous endeavor he became very ill due to drinking the water. Not sure how smart it was, but he kept drinking it and built up a tolerance and an immunity to it. Something about how he noticed the locals all drank from the river and were okay. (Not to stray too far off subject - but on the matter of calculated risk combined with this particular safety issue, there is an article in the July 2015 Outside Magazine called Little Things That Kill You that covers microbes from waters and dirt and such... In case you are planning to way deep fly fishing or are taking an excursion to Mexico or something. In such cases, some may say Yvon just got lucky. Some might say it was a calculated risk and he has very good instincts. We all do know how vaccines work after all.)
So what motivates us? We all have this little (or large) animal that exists within us.
Maybe for some it’s just an alter ego. You might spend time widdling away at drawings and writings of what your imagination taunts you with playing with the different archetypes the “other” parts of yourself identify with. Superman? Spiderman? Cinderella? Wonder Woman? Ulysses? Carrie Bradshaw?
All you know is you can’t help it - you must draw, you must write, you must read and learn things.
Maybe for others, your id animal just keeps physically moving forward through space engaging those big muscle groups and fine motor skills. You must run or ride or lift weights or build something or have that people connectivity or play team sports or your inner animal eats you up from the inside. You’re always on the hunt for a little rush and you light up from the inside - you feel invigorated and know you are alive and why.
Whatever that driver is, it is within us from the very beginning and sometimes somewhere along the way we may lose it. Letting your id stroll in the park or the field or in the mountains is pretty important, actually. You can contain it, but only for so long. This is the thing that made us cry for mom when we were hungry as a babe. This is the thing that made us test and learn about our environment or get really competitive on that math test in third grade. This is the thing that balances all the stuff that society tells us we need to curb or squeeze into our part of the tube like a sausage. It is the stuff you want, you just have to do, your inner animal or collective group super id animal really really needs to do because it is just going to be so much fun and so great or exquisite and perfectly elegant. You may fail. But you will learn from trying. You may get lost, but, as Thoreau discerns, this may be where we begin to know and be ourselves.
“In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round — for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost — do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” Henry David Thoreau
reprinted from https://etherealbeings.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/you-get-1000-words-today-since-i-blew-off-writing-yesterday-youre-welcome/