“A Pile Of Rocks Ceases To Be A Rock When Somebody Contemplates It With The Idea Of A Cathedral In Mind.” – Antoine De St-Exupery
I think I’ve come up with more original ideas while reading shampoo labels in the shower than I ever had at my time in university.
There are tons of reasons for why that might be the case… I picked electives that didn’t push me out of my comfort zone, and I expressed ideas that I thought my professors wanted to hear, as opposed to the ideas I actually had.
Even still… There are certain places that just inspire ideas. University wasn’t one of them for me; My shower apparently is.
But is it the place I’m in that’s inspiring ideas, or is it something else? Where do these ideas come from anyway?
I was researching it, and apparently there’s a mollusk that swims around, finds a home, and then immediately absorbs its own brain for nutrition. Once that mollusk settles in, it’s found its home for life, and no longer needs its brain. No more thinking necessary!
The difference between humans and this mollusk is that we don’t have a final goal. In fact, we don’t even have a primary goal, besides perhaps staying alive. There is no end in sight, we can’t turn off our brain until everything gets turned off along with it.
So we are stuck with our brains, and our ideas, for life.
You would think that, because we can’t escape our brains, we’d be overwhelmed by a never ending stream of ideas. But we know that’s not how life actually works. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you’re searching desperately for an idea, there’s absolutely none in sight? …Until you hear someone else’s great idea, and then suddenly you become inspired. Inspiration can be just the “sucker punch” your brain needs to get moving again.
Could that be where ideas come from? Is inspiration the critical element to ideation? Is developing an original idea just a matter of being inspired by someone else’s idea, and altering it until it becomes different enough from the source?
More to be explored in part two of this series…