Belonging on your own terms
Joining the pack without losing yourself
All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the skating scene in Airborne:
What can we learn?
A return to the self. Mitchell is a fish out of water. A free spirited, easy going surfer dude who’s stuck in a gritty, midwest blue collar town. He feels trapped to the point of claustrophobia. He’s bereft of inspiration. And if he doesn’t reconnect with spirit soon, he’s going to stop breathing. But the moment his blades arrive in the mail, he makes a break for freedom. The minute he starts skating again, he comes back home to pure expression, pure creation. Rejoining in the only world he’s ever known and felt home in. And so, the beauty of this scene isn’t just the incredible stunt work, but the reminder that we all need our own version of skating. The place where our soul finds expression. The activity that upholds how we belong to the world. And we need to go there regularly. Because after too long without existing in a manner that makes sense to us, we start to get twitchy. The longer we neglect the fire the more we are overcome by the smoke. What’s more, our restlessness can reach a point where it becomes a visible problem for the people around us. What experience brings a measure of coherence back to your life?
Find your culture’s binding agent. Skater boy has officially entered flow state. His tricks are colorful and inventive and spontaneous and uninhibited. But the inspiring part is, his creative expression gives others freedom to express themselves. His energy becomes the permission slip for individual personality to shine. And he doesn’t just attract fellow bladers, his followers are cyclists and skaters and athletes of all sizes, styles and skill levels. That’s the higher purpose of creativity. Not just to make stuff, but to connect people. To create a shared culture that captures where people have landed and encapsulate everyone’s edges. When I worked at the campus radio station in college, I experienced a similar sense of community. Nobody cared where you came from or what your major was or who your parents were. All that mattered was the music. Music was how we processed existence. Music was what made college possible. Music was what loosened the lid on the social jar. Music was what restored us to ourselves. Everything else flowed out from there. How much time do you spend with people who inspire you?
My love will wear you down eventually. Mitchell manages to endear a change of heart from the other students, help his team win the skating race, earns the respect of the school bully, and of course, gets the girl. Classic story. And the secret is, all of that happens because he finally finds a home for his portfolio of talents. Instead of working small, hiding his light under a bushel, laying low until the end of the semester, he lets it rip. He finds a way to join the club, but still belongs on his own terms. It’s a compelling example of outofstepness, in which an existential outsider feels unhoused and not fully at home in the world, so he makes art to make sense of that world. And what’s really interesting is, while Mitchell has distaste for the society in which he lives and disdain for the people who live in it, he doesn’t take such an individualistic stance that he completely alienates himself socially. He still brings outsider energy to his social interactions, but there’s a balance. A shared acceptance of the status quo. A willingness to dance at the party he ended up at. Is your outsider posture getting in the way of authentic, human connection?
What did you learn?