Lessons learned from “Space Jam”
All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
Based on my books in The Prolific Series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the baseball scene from Space Jam:
A whiff of meaningless creeps in. There’s a very real withdrawal process after you finish a creative project. It’s like coming down after a six month high, and the gravity of the experience is commensurate with the level of ambition you put in the work. And so, the more time and energy and money you invested, the weightier that withdrawal becomes. It’s a psychological fallout. You stand in the void between projects, feeling anxious and empty and idle and a little paranoid, wondering what the heck you’re going to create next. You realize, oh crap, now that you’ve shipped, there’s a huge hole in your creative life, and you don’t know how to fill it. And if you don’t plug up that hole soon, it’s bad times for all. Blech. I’ve gone through that withdrawal dozens of times over the years, and it never gets an easier. That space in between obsessions, where the smell of meaninglessness quietly creeps in like a slow gas leak, sometimes I feel like I want to jump out of my skin. But I don’t. Because I remember that things don’t need to be fixed, they need to be understood. So I sit with the feelings. As long as I have to. Sometimes I even start a conversation with them in my mind, asking what brings them to town. It’s all part of accepting and appreciating the turmoil of genuine process. What’s your early warning system for impending inner turmoil and anxiety?
Get good enough, and you can do anything you want. Jordan was the greatest basketball player who ever lived. But as a child, he dreamed of doing more than just shooting hoops. And so, after retiring from basketball upon the tragic death of his father, he surprised the entire world by signing a major league baseball contract. Nobody could believe it. Jordan swinging a bat? Say it ain’t so. And even though his talent for baseball was nowhere near his talent for basketball, at least he tried. Even though he had a subpar batting average and dozens of scuffling attempts in the outfield, at least he gave his dream a shot. And that’s the story worth remembering. That if you get good enough, and you can do anything you want. Don’t limit himself just because people can’t accept the fact that you can do something else. Keep exploring new ways of being an artist. Keep evolving into the next form for yourself. Even if the world conspires to make you less than you are. Even if people are invested in keeping you where you are. As my mentor once said, your option for how to create fulfilling work is only limited by your imagination’s ability to create scenarios that excite you. The definition of work, of career, of what is and is not a business, are forever altered and can be molded to fit anything that excites and feeds your soul if you choose to explore it intentionally. What could you do today that would be a complete step forward in your professional evolution?
Decisiveness is the antidote to regret. Michael didn’t regret his brief baseball career. How could he? It was his childhood dream and he finally accomplished it. Period. Nobody could take that away from him. And even though he only played for one year, he still got his allotment. That’s a big word for me, allotment. It stems from the biblical term for the parcel of land assigned to someone for some purpose, but also has numerous applications in gardening, traveling, stock trading and state lotteries. But each of us has our own allotments in life. And it’s always our choice about how we choose to expend them. As an example, I’ve been sober my entire life, save for my twenty first birthday. That night I managed to get good and pissed and had the time of my life. The next day, of course, I was so hung over that I didn’t get out of bed until dinner. But that was my allotment. I got the beast out of my system and got on with my life. The point is, if you don’t act while a door is open, it can shut forever. And before you know it, regret piles up around you like books you never read. Decisiveness, on the other hand, is the antidote to regret. Because when you make a choice, follow through with absolute commitment and bravely deal with the consequences of that choice, regret cowers into the corner in the fetal position. That’s the big win. Doing things because you don’t want to regret not doing them. Doing things because you don’t want to die wondering. As my mentor once said, if you want to be unhappy, just find the thing you love and don’t let yourself have it. What’s your allotment?
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