TED has started a new podcast series called TED Interviews, where Chris Anderson interviews people who have give TED talks about their talks, and they get more in depth.
I haven’t quite listened to all of them, but all that I’ve listened to have been captivating. (As of this writing, there are only six of them.)
I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, mostly known for writing Eat, Pray, Love. (I haven’t read it.)
First, they got into creativity. She talked a short bit about the history of creativity (who knew there was one?!) I loved the imagery in what she had to say:
“The way I describe it is the way I’ve empirically experienced it, which is broken down in my life to this notion: that ideas are living entities. They have consciousness. They don’t have matter. They can’t be seen, they can’t be felt, they can’t be proven, but they have will. And the way I picture it—and it’s sort of whimsical but I have also literally based my life on this—is the universe is sort of swirling with these ideas that wish to be created and they’re constantly looking for human collaborators because for some reason we have this oddly sensitive consciousness that can hear them and find them. And so the way I picture it is they sort of just roam around being like, ‘Are you my mother? Are you my mother? Are you my mother?’ And every single human who is struck by inspiration describes the experience exactly the same way … there’s this distraction where the idea sort of consumes you and in that consuming which can take months, weeks, years, the idea is interviewing you and asking you, ‘Do you wanna do this thing with me or not?’ And that’s the most important conversation that I think human beings can have, is that dialogue between your willingness to cooperate and show up and make something with this idea and manifest it and the idea’s desire to be made and the question of whether you are indeed the right partner.”
Whimsical was a solid word to describe the idea, but I love the imagery. Even more, though, I love the ownership of the work, and how the idea doesn’t just come and magically happen—it’s a partnership. “Your labor is the contribution to the miracle.” (She says that later.)
She talked more about that in other places in the podcast as well.
They also talked about curiosity vs. passion, enchantment vs. empiricism, fear, memes (not the pictures on the internet), secular magic, dark night of the soul, why to do the work if it’s likely to fail, and quite a bit about grieving.
It’s an hour long, and it’s well worth your hour. I listened to it twice, in addition to the bits I listened and paused so I could transcribe.