Sunday, October 26, 2008

Original Thought

In a recent NPR fundraiser, I heard that Joshua Bell has a new recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I can’t even imagine how many recording of the Four Seasons are in existence. But my next thought: If Bell can record the Four Seasons again, and people will listen to it, as they surely will, what does this say about originality in art? My clients (and I) often wonder if the thing we’re trying to create is really new, creative, original, worth doing and so forth.

Part of the problem is our gremlin, or inner critic, who tells us we’re not good enough, no matter what we do. The inner critic, of course, applies not only to artistic endeavors. It is often quite active when we consider personal decisions, make life choices and even when we decide who we’re voting for. In short, the inner critic or gremlin, is that nagging voice of reason, or perhaps unreason.

Why write about originality, the gremlin asks? Surely others have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Heck, they’ve designed the t-shirt. And they’ve probably done it better and created a cooler t-shirt. So says my gremlin.

But I say, you can do it. We can have personal takes and creative ideas about subjects that have been done and redone. It doesn’t matter that John Updike’s new novel will have an aging theme, and that it’s been done before quite well by others. I’ll still try to read it because I like Updike and I know he’ll have something interesting to say and he’ll say it in a remarkable and completely engaging way.

We can even have original thoughts about our own original thoughts. Updike himself has written about aging before. Occasionally I read something I’ve written a year or more ago, okay, even 8 weeks ago, and see it differently. I start to have new ideas that are linked to the original, yet different. I do a new group on life balance and start with a somewhat different organizing theme and it turns out to be a totally different experience. And, stay tuned, I plan to write about life balance again from that perspective.

Granted, we’re not all Joshua Bell or John Updike. That’s not the point. We’re who we are, original by definition, and the joy and fun of it is in just doing it. Whatever “it” is.

I saw Coldplay sing Viva la Vida on SNL. They’re doing a tour by the same name. I can’t even imagine how many times they’ve done the song. It sounded new and different, and man did it look like they were having fun.

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