As you can tell, I believe in taking grand or not-so-grand tours. Exploring unfamiliar destinations has a direct impact on my thinking. I bring back creative ideas as well as a new way of looking at the world. I don’t hesitate to leave my comfortable nest. Traveling is transformative for me.
Carolina Herrera believes in travel too. According to her recent video posted in The New York Times, Ms. Herrera found inspiration in Greece, England, and Italy for her Spring/Summer 2015 collection. While enjoying a July sojourn, she looked with wide eyes for new influences from clothes, to colors, to situations. A particular tulip caught her gaze. Check out her new video to see how a nature’s flower informed the color code of that collection. Her creativity inspires me. What about you?
Proprioception is a term in neurophysiology. It means self-perception. Most of us have a good sense of what it means when we think of sports. Athletes are beautiful to watch in terms of their physical control, coordination, and dexterity. They have awareness or self-perception of their movement. There is an abundance of programs at all levels to increase proprioception in athletes. The NFL, NBA, and PGA have their training camps. Colleges have huge programs. Let’s not forget youth football, soccer and Little League. For kids aspiring to be the next Michael Phelps or Gabby Douglas, sophisticated help is out there.
When it comes to proprioception of thought which is a gateway to creativity, training camps and programs are harder to find. Where do we go to learn about the flow thought? How do we become aware of assumptions, intentions and results of thinking that could block our natural creativity? Here is a Projectionist Exercise that I ran across in a class on dialogue. It can help build proprioception-of-thought muscles.
Projectionist Exercise (from Macy Holdings, Inc. and adapted from work of Steve and Connirae Andreas, NLP of Colorado)
- Think of an assumption you hold that you’d like to understand more fully. Have it clearly in mind before you begin the exercise.
- Make a quick assessment of the assumption. If it’s one that has a lot of baggage attached to it, go immediately to the projectionist’s room upstairs overlooking the theater.
- Notice that in the projectionist’s room, s/he has all sorts of gadgets. Try playing with them to mute the intensity of the emotions that are associated with the assumption to a level that is easily tolerable. Here are a few options:
- Make the movie into black and white;
- Leave it in color but mute the intensity of the color;
- Turn down or off the sound;
- Play the movie from the end to the start instead of from start to the end;
- Make the picture smaller on the screen.
- If the intensity associated with the assumption is ok, picture yourself seated in a theater, near the back. As the movie starts you see that it is a full technicolor and surround sound version of your assumption as it tends to play out in real life situations. Watch it from start to finish, noting your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, judgments, and anything else that comes up in response to the movie.
- After you’ve watched the movie from either the back of the theater or from the projectionist’s room, consider what you’ve observed. What have you learned by watching your assumption in action?
- If you could wave your magic wand, how might you re-script the assumption movie so that you really like how it plays and how you respond to it?
- Play that re-scripted movie and tweak it till you really like it. Then you might want to go back up to the projectionist’s room and use all those gadgets to get the right intensity of color, sound, etc.
- Play it again, this time, if you want, you could imagine yourself being an actor in the movie (preferably you playing yourself) and actually step into the action on screen. Play it through several times till you really get the feel of it.
- When will that assumption likely come up in real life? Picture a scene when it will likely come up and picture yourself interacting in that scene with the tweaked assumption from the movie forming your response.
What does it mean to be human? Is it a sense of shared history? From just a couple of hundred, we have grown to over seven billion in 200,000 years, or do common needs define us as human? Survival, meaning, autonomy, honesty, well-being, transcendence, regeneration, empathy, interdependence, and protection are driving forces in our lives. Maybe it is culture? There are over 193 recognized states in the world. Each state has a powerful culture. Within those state cultures, there are regional cultures. Within those regional cultures, there are city cultures. Within those city cultures, there are family cultures and so on and so on. Culture is like a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls. Each one is nested inside of a larger one. Is it culture or is being human defined by all or none of the above?
Carl Sagan had an interesting take on what unites us in meaning. Referring to the Pale-Blue Dot photograph taken by Voyager 1, he wrote the following:
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
Maybe having a common home defines our species? Circling around that idea could transform our thinking from incoherence to coherence. Instead of thinking in all sorts of directions driven by nationalism, ideology, or ego, humans could focus with laser-beam precision on how to preserve and cherish the Goldilocks conditions on earth. Venus is too hot and Mars is too cold, but earth is just right for human beings to flourish. Seeing ourselves in a new way through the Pale-Blue Dot perspective could be the cement or glue that allows us to start thinking together creatively. Population on Earth will reach nine billion soon. Where will food and resources come from? How will we cope with future environmental change? Seeing the human home as a common biosphere could transform our thinking for the better.