What are you great at? I’m told that I’m one of the most creative people that anyone has ever met, but what does that mean exactly? Does it mean that I truly am in that elite 2% of the population that see’s things with such precision that I can find opportunities for improvement in almost any design or advertising campaign? Or does it mean I really don’t pay attention that well nor do I listen that well so I just hear, see and pick up something completely different from what is being put down.
Maybe what I’m truly good at is not being afraid to share my mind, pitch a creative idea or present a solution that only I can see while all others are focused on other things. Maybe that’s what I’m really good at, taking the risk for reward when all others fear the rejection.
I was at the gate at an airport last week and the security guard checking IDs asked me a question, as she was reviewing my driver’s license and boarding pass. What I heard was, “Are you trying to look like yourself today?” To which I replied smiling with sincere jest, “You have the picture, I don’t even know what I look like sometimes!”
Instead of hearing the rim shot and my audience breaking into canned laughter, all the security guards stopped what they were doing and rallied behind the security guard in front of me, all wearing their most serious and concerned faces, as she asked the question again. Strangely I was terrified by the prospect that I might be carried off into some dark interrogation room at any moment, as she spoke very slowly this time carefully repeating the same question she asked the first time. “Are… you …traveling… by yourself… today sir?”
To which I explained what I heard incorrectly the first time and said three times… “Yes… traveling by myself!!…Yes Yes.” After that explanation, all the guards laughed and sent me on my way. Another close call gifted to the creative.
Sensing things differently is both a gift and curse for us creatives. Sometimes I think we are best suited to having a guide at our side at all times, who could interpret and help us navigate through life’s confusion or at the very least just remind us to pay attention and keep our eyes on the road… much less verify what we hear or see.
When I’m out shooting photos, I’m happy to share my view and always consider the possibility that what I see and hear might actually be quite different from what is being said or shown. Like take these two guys for instance. To me they spend their days and nights combing the beach for lost metal objects. I imagine finding metal has become their life goal for some reason.
The guy on the right looks to me like a veteran who doesn’t walk that great in the first place due to metal chards still in his leg from the war. The guy on the left must have been in a rock band his whole life and has gone from playing heavy metal to finding it. What other explanation could there be for such a past time.
As the sun set, even the least attractive bathers in my view became aesthetic stacks of shapes and form reflecting the end of day glow.
Marching mothers and trotting tots kick up crystal branches of Gulf water while their forms melt into colored roots dripping below the surface.
Elsewhere on the Gulf, tiny black zombies wander in various directions searching for their next meal of living flesh.
On another beach, during another day, also at sunset, a gang of bikers trek out to the end of the sand, strip off their colors and prepare to take a plunge.
Out of the water climbed this young lady with her float. Sometimes it’s really hard to take the picture when I’m so taken with just looking at what I see. Was she a musician? A punk rocker perhaps? A clothing designer? Maybe she worked at a store that sold odd floats and waterproof leggings and was just showing them off. Maybe she is a little girl who never grew up? I think hairdresser…yeah…that’s my best guess.
Elsewhere on the Gulf a man surfs with his dog. I’m guessing wealthy retired owner of a software company specializing in mobile applications. Or perhaps he doesn’t have to work because he is the son of the publisher of Fortune Magazine and he spends his days playing with his pup and his paddle.
From a distance the setting sun flashes a huge shiny reflection off someone’s back obviously related to the Hulk! Though he was just reaching down into the water to splash up some rinse… caught in mid-motion his back arched and arms stretched making him look even more primitive. I imagined passing him on the beach to get a look at the ripped front shot of this monstrous body builder.
I imagined him turning around just as I had my camera aimed on him only to have him run out of the water screaming, “I”m a celebrity, I’m under contract, I’m forbidden to have my picture taken!!!” Then I realized my imagination was getting the better of me because what celebrity screams, “I’m a celebrity, please don’t take my picture” ?
The sun was almost gone and it was time to head back. I passed an ice cream store where all kinds of people were overflowing out the doors and hanging on the porches, licking and slurping like lizards catching melting drips. Inside I wasn’t drawn to the obvious but captivated by the stack of cones piled upon one another. The white light from the heat lamp bleaching out the shapes from above while the shadows formed pitch black tunnels darkening the cones beneath.
I was reminded of one of life’s great analogies, how life is like the ice cream cone. I read somewhere that as the brim at the top of the cone get’s wider and invites more of life’s good to enter it’s ever opening funnel, so does the painful pointy bottom drill proportionately deeper into the dark corners below.
While some of us choose to focus on the opening in the light, others will always only see the narrow, sharp and dark point at the bottom. Ironically both have to exist to form the other.
From delusions at flight to conical insight the creative knows no bounds. And then there is no time or place to be creative especially when a dog is left in the car during tropical heat. Such an odd motivation of dependent devotion, blinding such obvious and extraordinary ignorance. This car was parked outside a grocery store in the heat of the day, and I’m sure the owners went in for something quick, thinking they’d be right back; but they weren’t.
I went into the store and grabbed the store managers and showed them the dog in the car and asked them to page the owners or call the authorities. A lifetime of bravely pitching creative ideas ironically prepared me to be unafraid of rejection and able to stand up, speak out and save a dog’s life.
Maybe this is really what I’m good at.