Monday, August 15, 2011

Creativity, Boxes, and Breaking Bad

When I was around 13 years old I had a short-lived hobby where I created something akin to a scrapbook. I would cut up my old video-game magazines and paste the pictures, advertisements, and my favorite articles together into an un-used writing book that I'd take from my public school classroom. The book would only contain cut-outs from the gaming systems I owned and cared about. Therefore creating what I thought was the perfect version of a video-game magazine.

I haven't thought about this particular memory in quite a long time, but it's reminded me that I've been trying to achieve something in a creative way all my life. Even though cutting out already written articles and advertisements then pasting them onto a blank page isn't the most creative thing to do, in my 13 year old mind I drew those drawings and wrote those articles myself.

I think I still have one of those scrapbooks sitting in a box somewhere. It's most likely torn and creased from all the times I've emptied those boxes looking for one specific thing and then shoved everything back in afterwards. Probably never even finding the thing I was originally looking for.

More Types of Boxes

"Thinking outside the box" is something people like to say when attempting to bring out their creative thoughts. I don't believe there is a box however. This box is actually something most people build for themselves and often without even realizing it. You limit yourself and your thinking to make things simplified so you can better focus on what you're told to do. While that is what's called being "normal", there are times when it's quite fascinating (and potentially productive) to think of everything as subjective.

Sometimes I'll think about how intelligent the human brain truly is. When I go to stand up, how do I know which muscles to move, how do I know there isn't broken glass laying at my feet, how do I even know that stepping in broken glass is a bad thing?

What about watching a television program. Have you ever thought about how complicated things really are? Not only are they speaking a language that your brain has to interpret at lightning fast speeds, but each scene has so much going on at once that our brains just automatically sort out for us. It already knows to focus on the people in the scene, not the random objects, and what they're saying rather than the music.

This is the kind of thinking that can keep someone up at night (and it oftentimes does), however it's also a great brain-motivator when you're trying to force creativity. This could be anything from simple work-related problem solving to trying to figure out how to make enough money to get your kids through school. Rather than "thinking outside the box" I'd rather just say we're being "open minded" here. Makes more sense eh?

Remember, there's only a "box" because enough people believe in it. This oddly reminds me of that one Supernatural episode where the ghost keeps changing because the myth that people believe in keeps changing.

Breaking Bad and the Choices We Make

Breaking Bad (Which was just renewed for a final season) is about chemistry, in more ways than one actually. In the words of Walter White, "chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change". Our lives follow the same basic principle as chemistry. The choices that we make, change the world around us in massive ways.

Walter White one day decides to initiate some changes in his life, and it effects absolutely everyone around him. And it wasn't until the season 3 episode "Fly" (I won't spoil it here) that I began thinking deeply about this. Breaking Bad is about the chemistry of human living. Whether we perceive Walt's choices to be positive or negative, they still cause identically significant waves of change to those around him.

Who knows where characters like Jesse, Chicken-man, and Hank (possibly killed by the Mexican Cartel?) be right now if Walt had decided against making meth. If we forget about human choice for a second, how different would things have been if Walt never had cancer?

Back to the real world now. We've all made choices, big and small. We do it every waking second of every single day. It's easy to go back and watch earlier seasons of a television show to see exactly where our favorite fictional characters started out, and where they've ended up. It's impossible to see our own life paths and figure out exactly how you ended up where you are today in terms of the decisions you've made, as well as those that were made by others that directly effected you.

It's fun to think about though. If I wasn't into that whole scrapbooking thing when I was a kid, would I be doing what I'm doing right now? Which is almost the exact same thing; writing my own articles and drawing my own pictures to put up on a blank digital page.