The Richard Linklater Guide to Creating a New Realm of Possibility for Yourself
Lessons learned from the movie “Slacker”
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.
And so, in this blog 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 taxi scene from Slacker:
Create a new realm of possibility. Linklater explains that every thought we have has its own reality. Every choice we make, even the thing we choose not to do, fractions off and becomes its own reality. It just goes on from there, forever. What’s interesting is, his monologue is more than just slacker conjecture. Thoughts actually cause an electrical change in the environment outside of our heads. Adams once reported that scientists can put sensors on your scalp and detect slight changes in electrical impulses that correspond to your thoughts. And this tiny change in electricity can cause lager changes in the world. Thoughts truly can influence the environment. And so, if it’s possible that our thoughts define reality in a more direct way than we ever imagined possible, then everything that happens today forms the basis for what can happen tomorrow. Even the most infinitesimally small changes from our day today can magnify into huge transformations over time. That’s why affirmations work. They force us to steer our perceptions to directly influence our environment. I started practicing affirmations many years ago, and now that I look back on the things that I affirmed to myself a decade ago, it’s almost spooky to see how many of them have come to fruition. And I realize that my personal anecdotes are not statistically valid. I get that data is not the plural of experience. But in my alternative view of reality, statistics are meaningless. What will free you from the optical illusions that restrict your view of reality?
Art is the great permission slip. Slacker was a series of personal experiences of unconnected characters whose lives randomly meet on the streets. The movie was literally made up as it went along, as the actors often designed the next day’s shootings the evening before. Linklater created a vehicle way to illustrate the incoherence and randomness of life. More importantly, he created something uncategorizable. A work of art with an appeal almost impossible to describe. And as a result, the film is often dubbed as the starting point for the independent film movement of the nineties. In fact, many independent filmmakers credit this movie as the wedge that opened the doors for their own creative work. That’s the real art. Not the movie, but the gift of permission it gives to people. Because any time your work becomes an invitation for people reach deep down inside themselves and express what is there, without reserve and without regret, you win. And nobody can take that love away from you. What we need as artists, then, is audacity. The willingness to try some radical shit at every turn. Because we inspire people to believe in themselves when we first throw ourselves boldly and joyfully into the life adventure, never looking over our shoulder to see who’s laughing. In fact, I didn’t watch this movie until twenty years after its initial release. But it still inspired me to create my own movie as a result. Proving, that permission is timeless. What is your art going to be the first at?
When resources are free, it’s all permission. This seemingly plotless film portrays a generation of young people characterized by aimlessness, apathy and lack of ambition. In short, slackers. But what’s interesting is, the director says that the modern meaning of the word slacker doesn’t necessarily have to be pejorative. It could simply mean being responsible to yourself. Not wasting your time in a realm of activity that has nothing to do with who you are or what you want. It’s like my mentor to say, remove what robs you. In fact, I remember my own slacker moment. I went to the career fair my senior year of college. And when I walked in that gym and witnessed sea of stale corporate exhibits handing free mouse pads to herd of starry eyed students hopping from booth to booth trying to prove themselves to people they didn’t even like so they could land boring, soul sucking jobs that preserved the status quo, only one question entered my mind. What the hell am I doing here? So I went home and finished my first book. And nine months later, I published it. Because I never waited to be picked, I just hired myself and got to work. If being a slacker is wrong, I don’t want to be right. What permissions are you afraid to give yourself?
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