Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit

In 7th grade, there was a major unit that lasted the whole year that everyone from my oldest brother (12 years older) to my youngest sister (2 years younger) covered: mythology. I was insanely obsessed with Beowulf, Grendel, you know…what 13 year old girl DOESN’T love English heroic verse?

Greek mythology unit was overshadowed. I do remember, however, being extremely struck by the story of Icarus and the seeming (to my teenage mind) unfairness of his death, so much so that I bought a print of Matisse’s Flight of Icarus, and still have it hanging in my basement.

Flight of Icarus - Matisse
Poignant, right?

And so when I heard about Seth Godin’s new book, The Icarus Deception, I checked i out. Godin’s latest parallels the tale of Icarus, but where Icarus was warned not to fly too high nor too low, Godin recommends new territory. Obvious,  right but still valid. And to complement the lesson of the books, these Icarus Sessions Meet Ups were organized–here’s an excerpt from Squidoo:

The Icarus Sessions are a challenging new way to bring your art forward. Not to make a sales pitch, not to get customers or patrons, but to find the courage to stand up and say, “here, I made this.” You can attend a session without presenting, of course.
A presentation at an Icarus Session is 140 seconds long. You can go shorter, but not a second longer. You can use slides, or handouts, or even better, just bring your enthusiasm. The assignment: Tell the group about your art. What have you created? What frightened you? What matters?
Not a pitch. An act of brave vulnerability.
I made this. It scared me.
This might not work.
Here’s how it changed me.
What do you think?

Where I faltered was NOT learning about the Icarus Sessions until the day after they happened.

In my life, I’ve endeavored to be a creative person, and always felt that I personally fell short. I can write well for commercial gain. But when it comes to writing things of substance, of things that I would want to read again and again and again…I can’t do it. I can’t bear to read my own writing, much less edit it, despite having no problem ripping apart others compositions with the type of savageness a lion might reserve for a wildebeest.

As I’ve gone on in my career, I’ve had projects that have scared me, that might have changed me, that might have helped define a new pathway. But I quit midway, or never even began. I do think my new position is a place where I can start redefining the source of my creativity, and through new outlets, which is always a move in the right direction no matter where you want to go in life.

As a remnant of my Beowulf love, I have ex nihilo nihil fit tattooed on my right bicep.  It’s a reference to Grendel, of course, but in this context, it means Nothing comes from nothing. It’s a reminder to myself that I need to be a source of creativity. Maybe I need some Icarus ink as well to really kick myself in the pants.

1 Comment

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s