A feeling is coming over me that-- miracle of miracles that I can detect this-- I am about to offend believers in fundamentalist Christianity. So I warn them right now-- come back next Saturday, you will be happier.
This week we had a delightful break at the Coast. Three nights with friends at a rental house that the four of us have had four times since 2008 (We have taken a photo like the one below each time and I will post them all sometime). Along with such a wonderful time of sitting and watching the ocean (I learned when there that I can watch the waves and birds for hours and not find it boring or too much), we had a lot of great conversations and good food.
One of the conversation is about to morph into this blog as I woke up last night thinking about miracles, magic, magick, mystery, muses, or... the mundane.
At the house, i was sitting on the sofa watching the ocean waves and birds while Diane was painting and I brought up something I'd been reading. Mark Burnett, the producer of The Survivor (to me an icky show about profiting from manipulation), who has now put out a mini-series on the History Channel, The Bible, claimed miracles happened on the set proving God had his hand in the production and wanted it made.
That he would say such a thing irked me for two reasons. One I've heard that talk throughout my life. When a shooter kills a bunch of people, often one of those who didn't get shot credits it to a miracle. When a hiker is lost and crews find them-- miracle. Miracles are thought to prove God's hand is on that person's life which is generally thought to mean they were spared because they were still needed here (what does that say about those who weren't spared?). This is the talk of a personal god, the kind who gets involved in productions of TV series because everybody knows He can't adequately publicize himself.
This ignores what happened to those who did get shot, the hiker who didn't get found, the person the bear did kill. It ignores the one who needed a new car but it didn't suddenly appear (God takes great interest in providing material goods to his beloved). Well not totally ignores as then the spiel is-- it was for their own good that it (loss/disease/disappointment/etc.) happened. Always these things are miracles whichever way it goes.
In a week where a lot of talk was over a new Pope, religion is a topic of conversation anyway (good, bad, or no change for the Church?). I might forgive a reality TV show producer for claiming God blessed his new project by miraculous signs that he was looking for, but what really irked me is this supposedly creative person (I'll reserve judgment on that one but certainly successful), wouldn't understand how creativity works and his supposed miraculous events relate more to that then to some divine intervention.
Of course, believers would say I am about to be blasphemous (which is why I warned them away and take no responsibility for them being offended). I would be blasphemous if I believed God/god/deity had anything to do with his claimed miracles or that now the series is getting very high ratings which is shocking everybody-- supposedly -- or at least those who don't know how many claim to be Christians in our country. (on that link, check out the clip at the bottom for the trailer and the level of acting in the show-- more special effects than great acting was my take if that is the 'best' it has anyway).
My conversation with Diane, while i was sitting on the sofa watching the ocean to possibly photography the perfect ocean wave/pelicans/eagle and she was standing at her easel tweaking her painting of that ocean, was more my thinking on how creativity works than that a shyster might once again be scamming a bunch of people with his piety (seen it before, haven't we).
When we are into a creative work, when we have put together the pieces that can make it happen, then is when the muse (which is a word I like but don't mean by it a being necessarily but the energy wave that comes with creative work) can bring into play more elements. Things happen that we didn't expect.
Creativity doesn't happen when someone is not doing the work. It happens in the midst of it and the lucky accidents keep adding to what is possible. It's serendipity and those who do creative work learn to expect it.
When I carved, in stone I always thought the sculpture was inside and just needed me to carve away what was getting in its way. Then later working with clay, the same thing. A blob of clay that I would begin kneading to take out the air bubbles would begin to reveal what it was intended to be. If I had waited to work that clay until I had a plan, I'd likely have never sculpted.
Now it's true of my writing. I know the gist of where I am going but once I have set characters into that setting, as I am into the middle of it, lots of cool things come along that I enjoy very much. As the writer, I don't take credit for all this happening. I also don't know from where it really comes; however, I see as enriching for me as the creator and for what will come from my work.
As an example with the story I am currently writing. I knew because of when/where the events were taking place that grizzly bears were potential in the area even though later they disappeared from Oregon (they're returning now into the northeastern corner or so I have been told by locals). Way ahead of where I was writing, I began thinking how the bear would impact the story. By the time I got to where it was going to happen, the events were just there. Nothing I originally imagined but far better.
If someone wants to write, paint, sculpt, etc., and they think they are not creative, my advice is just start. It is in the doing that the chances come along that enrich the work, that can seem like a miracle but in reality is just a product of doing and being aware.
To me creative work always involves lucky accidents, recognizing a meaning beyond the obvious, and running with it. The fact that someone wants to make that into a miracle to bless their life or work over someone else's offends me.
In the link above, there is a trailer to the movie Burnett created. It's worth taking a peek at what he considers the best of the shows. Farm Boss laughed when he saw it but his laughter also is likely blasphemy to the true believers-- where's a good lightning bolt when you need one or was god also laughing?
Someone who is supposed to be doing God's work and has the hand of God on that work, wouldn't you expect the work to be superior and not enhanced by gimmicks and emotional tricks? Maybe not from the producer of The Survivor...