Flight or Fight or Creativity

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Cave painting - Flight or Fight or Creativity

The whole world is out to get you. All the signs are there. You never get a lucky break. People always treat you like dirt. And the few people who are nice? They’re after something, obviously. Everyone else is on a life-long personal vendetta to make your existence slightly more unpleasant: the people at the bank, your boss, politicians, that team you support who always loses just to spite you, and random children & animals who insist on walking in front of you when you’re so busy mulling the sorry state of the world.

Go on, admit it. You’ve had all this go through your head at some point. But some of you have this going through your head all the time. There, you see, you were just thinking it right now. To you, ladies and gentlemen of the persecuted elite, I tip my hat in awe. I would like to come up to each one of you personally, and shake your hand. Because to truly believe and live with the faith that the entire human race and stray rocks are out to make your life miserable, requires a level of self-confidence and ego that is tremendous. With that level of confidence in yourself you must all be the most creative and productive people in the world!

Why the awkward silence? What is this you say? You’re neither creative nor productive? I think I can explain the problem. Like all good human stories it starts a long time ago, on a tree far far away. The early mammals were likely always running away from dinosaurs. Hey, I don’t care if it’s true, it just looks much cooler in my head this way. So anyway, since they had to always keep an eye out for the supporting cast of Jurassic Park around every tree bark, they developed a drug habit. Every time there was the possibility of danger, their brain sent out a signal which pumped their blood with a wonderful energy drink called adrenaline. Suddenly they were filled with the instinct and energy to fight or escape whatever threatened them (fight or flight).

This drug habit worked out well for them. It meant more of these little mammals survived and avoided becoming buffalo wings for some hungry dino. Of course, back then they weren’t called buffalo wings because buffalo hadn’t been invented yet, but I digress. Eventually the dinos died out for having played too dangerously on the cosmic stock market, and the little scurrying creatures survived due to their frugal lifestyle. But the drug habit continued, because there were always new things to be threatened by.

Over the aeons, those mammals evolved and moved into caves to get away from deadly predators, and then into buildings. But while the old predators had died out and been forced into the entertainment industry, our drug lust didn’t stop. It’s quite difficult to break a 100 million year old habit. It still has its uses, of course, when you’re trying to save yourself from a burning building, or you’re trying to throw yourself out of the way of a runaway bus, but how often do those things happen to you? Not regularly, I hope. The rest of the time, our adrenaline-junkie brains make up imaginary dinos for us to run from.

Back when we were still in the caves, one or two trouble makers found a solution. They were the first to say things like, “To hell with all that hunting, man!”, and, “I’m never going to work for THE (cave) MAN,” and, “Make finger paintings not dangerous bare-fisted battle with a woolly mammoth.” Those were the first human beings that realised there was a way without the drug they had been used to, and that there was a drug with a much bigger high: creativity. Not only did they realise that getting rid of the adrenaline gifted them with the spark of creativity, but also that the spark of creative thinking helped set them free from the flight and fright feeling. This is why they went on to invent spears, solid walls, fortresses, and eventually frozen chicken.

Obviously, the rest of the population of fine upstanding cave dwellers thought these proto-artists and proto-inventors were nuts. Sure they went on tours of the neighbouring painted cave on their holidays, and sure they started copying those strange spear things the weirdos had come up with because it made the hunt less tiresome, but they weren’t falling for any of this creativity rubbish. No, they were still old fashioned, traditional people, and they preferred their drugs in adrenaline shaped bottles, thank you very much! So while the art and invention was being developed in one corner they created something more sinister in the other: gossip, and the news. You see, now it didn’t matter if dinos were chasing you, you could just hear about how dinos allegedly chased someone else and the adrenaline would taste just as good, the stress would feel just as real, and you could constantly scurry around like it was the good old days on the trees.

It was inevitable, because giving in to baser instincts is easy. Creativity is also an instinct, but one that only flourishes when the parasitic influences of fear and aggression have been removed from the equation. The cave painters knew that. Giving in was easy for them too, but keeping their heads and being creative human beings in spite of all the chemicals rushing through their blood that told them otherwise, was hard. Like those early pioneers, even today some people choose this hard path, in whatever field of endeavour they might be, because painting is not the only creative act. They choose to ignore the most powerful antagonist, their own basic natures, to do more and be more. Who would you respect, someone who always takes the easy way through everything, never achieving their best, or someone who takes the hard route, ever striving towards their best? Are there any doubts as to why the whole world is not jumping with joy every time they see you?

So, embrace the fact that you are human and meant for more than scurrying around headless. First I suggest you go break your ridiculous addiction to the news and current events, and then come back and talk to me when you are sober. I promise, I will welcome you with a warm embrace, each and every one of you. We can sit together and laugh about the good old caveman days, when the whole world was out to get you.

Samir

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Comments
  1. Haha, after a couple of cigarettes and a large mug of coffee, I finally made it to the end of the post! 😉

    You’re a very fine writer Mr. Samir. Some great lines, I particuarly enjoyed “We can sit together and laugh about the good old caveman days, when the whole world was out to get you.” Hehe, had a wee chuckle to that.

    You are of course right. I know everyone is out to get me, sometimes I wonder why but now I know…

    …it’s the creative caveman in me.

    1. Thanks Mark. Welcome to my humble long-winded abode. Good to know you finally gathered the courage and the resources to make it through one of my articles. It is a proud day, for sure. 😉

      I actually wanted to do an illustration to go with this, but realised that in my current rusty state it would take me far too long to get around to it and finally finish it. Over reaching with my illustration ideas is a constant curse. So my illustration rebirth will have to wait for another time, till I put some more practice into the basics, like drawing quickly for one.

      Thanks again for the comment, and may the creative caveman be with you!

      Samir

  2. Do you realize that some people would have given anything to be able to produce such gem of a writing(in English,of course) as the above post we are to discuss. My Russian is nothing short of a perfection, but it doesn’t bring much consolation.LOL
    I’ll be honest without any make-you-feel-good tricks. It would be ideal to walk the middle route, where you are happily achieving your best, while occasionally(or if like me-always) looking for the fastest, the most efficient creativity shortcuts, and never striving towards perfection.
    Why? Striving is a physical disaster, not an accelerator for creativity. Hungry people strive for food, because they are in pain.
    And who is qualified to judge what is your best? Loved ones, friends, colleagues? Yourself?

    1. Hey Lin, always good to see a familiar name on these pages. Thanks for dropping by and for the not-so-short or “easy” comment. 🙂

      Producing good writing is just a matter of practice in the long run. Plus, if your Russian is near perfect, you already have the required skills, and I’d say your English is pretty darn impressive already. To be so fluent at two languages is an achievement you should not discount. Getting better at writing is always a matter of time and work. Once you write enough mediocre things you will write a good one. Once you write enough good pieces, you will write a great one. Just keep going.

      I agree with you, in creativity as in many things, a dose of moderation goes a long way. But you see, by “easy” route, I meant the well-travelled and charted route. A creative person can often find easier, faster and more efficient ways of doing things. Using those makes them more creative, not less so.

      It is unfortunate that in language striving has a connotation of suffering or hunger. The hungry yearn for food because they absolutely must have it for survival. It’s a basic biological instinct. Everyone doesn’t need creatvity to survive, so the comparison might not be a fair one. People make a choice to strive for creativity, and a striving by choice should always be a sweeter effort than a suffering need.

      Ultimately, the only judge for your best is yourself, but only when you’re being completely honest. Unfortunately we often placate our egos with convenient self-imposed barriers so that we never need to consciously acknowlede our shortcomings. Similarly, the only person you should be competing with is yourself, and hopefully it’s a close race.

      Samir

  3. Dear Samir,
    After reading 2 times your post, ha ha ha, I come to the conclusion that you´re right, stress has always promoted creativity.
    I also enjoyed your so fine sense of humor, the only thing is why can´t I see the news? I’m sure they don’t contribute to creativity in any way, but give us the necessary daily stress. Really enjoyed reading it.
    Magali

    1. Magali, thank you for reading, and taking the extra trouble to read it twice! if only everyone who came across my writing was so dedicated. 😉

      Don’t worry, I’m not going to come over there and force you to stop reading the news. 🙂 The question really is whether you are addicted to the news. Most people are. If you can go a whole day, or two, without ever looking at the news, you’re fine. Most people can’t. News becomes a sort of drug of it’s own. Like a drug, it doesn’t nourish you in any way, has no long term value, and leaves you tired and stressed. Reading the news per se is not always a bad thing, but being dependent on reading the news as your way of understanding the world is.

      Happy to know you liked this. And thank you for the comment. It adds so much to these articles to know how others feel about the issue.

      Samir

  4. As someone who has stood firm almost right between Flight and Fight, I can see why creativity is such big deal. I’ve had to use my resources rather ‘creatively’ to do nothing but conjure some ‘huul’ (been practising Vishal’s ‘pau chuo beta’ technique for a while now :P) for the intimidating public. Somewhere, sometime, all this has become so routine that work and me reek of mediocrity. I’m still scared of that velociraptor though. Never even made through the first week of Dino Idol – I have my pseudo macho scream to blame for that.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Amit. You are absolutely right, mediocrity is the enemy. and it’s a trap we all fall into at some point or the other.

      If only we were half as scared of mediocrity as we are of creatures that go bump in the night, this discussion would not be necessary.

      Until we reach that state of fear nirvana, keep it up, fight the good fight, and on occasion let off one of those pseudo macho screams of yours. I hear ‘sensitive men’ are all the rage nowadays. 😀

      Samir

  5. Dear Samir,

    After reading thru a couple of your post[ You did mention somewhere here, that we do think of so many ways to multi-task at work] I must say, that I absolutely love the way you write!! What captured my attention, on this post was the word ‘Creativity’ and I must agree that I have an infernal horrid feeling that this world and everything in between is out to get me, and get me good.
    It is so refreshing to read about someone who has such a humorous way of seeing things, rather than the ‘dirty looks’ and ‘Prozac’ prescriptions that one usually encounters for such syndromes..:)
    I do write a lot of ‘songs’ [If they can be called that! :P] and sometimes, the caveman in me seems so much more of a soothing balm than the mad mad world of corporate that I struggle to cope thru. Am I depressed? Or am I plain cukoo?.
    Oh f*** it!…. It does’nt matter what anyone thinks! 🙂

    But, this particular post has very much inspired me to go back to my creative roots, and that I will, after I finish saying that : You, Samir are one fine writer! And, I will be subscribing to your feed very soon!!

    Keep up the Blogging!
    Cheers!

    1. This is a very late reply, but thank you very much for the kind words.

      I hope you do find your creative roots and make the best of them, enjoying the process and the results. I’d love to hear of your progress here when you do.

      Thanks, and all the best,
      Samir


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