It always happens. Days, weeks, sometimes even months of grinding work suddenly reach a crest in the shadowed road and then pass over the rise into exhilarating bright light. Intangibility turns solid. Ideas become real. Light floods the space and suddenly something exists in the world in a way that didn't exist a moment before.
That transformative jolt is not simply an epiphany suddenly making it's presence known. That jolt is akin to the lighting that reanimated Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Hard, incremental work prepared the space, with little emotional resonance. Hard work yesterday turns into hard work today, with the promise of more to come tomorrow. Intellectually we may understand the trajectory of an undertaking, but emotionally it's hard to believe that tiny steps taken day after day will actually amount to anything useful. But then the lifecycle of a project reaches a mid-point, and something must transform somehow, or at least make room for new components. When it's clicking some sort of new, élan vital enters the body, takes a breath and fires cells to life…
…and here's the crazy thing: those moments are hard to predict.
But sometimes you can get a hint that they're coming.
I'm writing this blog entry sitting in a recording studio in Athens, Ohio while our music master Andre (Hey! Check the rest of our website for a photo and bio!) is hunched over the piano working on a score for our new Science On a Sphere movie WATER FALLS. I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we all look forward to this phase of a big production, even as we're all starting to feel the strain of exertion and fleeting time. The work is serious and hard but simultaneously joyful. The process is a complete embrace of the best parts of life. It creates matter from void; it declares emotional resonance from nothing but memory and inspiration. For WATER FALLS, months of effort have led us here. We finally have a rough cut of the film capable of supporting serious dialogue between itself and musical ideas. No doubt that music will re-inform the visuals, and we'll be in a sudden pas-de-deux between the two, pictures influencing audio, audio influencing picture.
I've been doing this work for decades, and it still makes my heart rate pick up the pace. A moment ago, something that never existed before suddenly sprang into being, achieving enough mass and complexity to transform from a pile of matter into a gleaming structure, a temple, a town, a soul. There's music behind the pictures, and an a flooding list of notes running off the the pages in my notebook, and though the hour is late, I am wide awake and scribbling as fast as I can.
Moments of discovery are rare. The do not come easily. They are milestones along long, often forced marches, and they do not, by themselves, pay the rent. But placed against the endless labors of ordinary days, they are gleaming cracks in the often opaque facades of what we're all forced to endure in ordinary days. Moments of discovery shine light on what we all so desperately want to believe could be great, meaningful, shimmering substance of lives worth living.
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PS -- Yes, yes, here's where the good people of 1AU ask our dear readers to share what you've read with friends and colleagues. And here's the place where you think, "Oh, sure, one more imposition of my precious time." Well, we're asking. It's something we value above rubies, above gold: if you like an idea enough to give it a moment's thought, then consider giving it a measure of freedom. When you share an idea with another person, you release an idea to grow freely in the world.
Like what you see? Set it free.