The Process is a weekly newsletter that explores the inner workings of humanity's greatest creative minds.
Museum goers spend roughly 8 seconds gazing at a piece of art before moving onto the next. While that statistic is a bit unnerving, it's forgivable when we consider both our dwindling attention spans and the sheer number of artworks crammed inside a museum.
The Louvre, for example, is home to 35,000 pieces of art. Let's say you were to spend just 1 second looking at each piece of art in the Louvre. It would take you nearly 10 hours to get all the way through the museum. This begs the question: If you were to see the entire Louvre in a single day, would you have actually seen the Louvre? The answer is no.
You can't truly see a piece of art in 8 seconds (let alone 1), just like you can't truly see a person by simply glancing at them. Slow looking is a practice that encourages museum goers to spend not seconds but minutes––and sometimes hours––gazing at a single piece of art. A "Slow Looker" might take a trip to the Louvre and kill 3 hours gazing at The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault.
Slow looking is a reminder that it's far better to pay more attention to less than less attention to more.
Biomimicry is a branch of design that seeks to mimic the elements, systems, models and processes ever present in nature.
During the 2008 olympics, scientists were so closely able to replicate sharkskin in swimsuits, that they're now banned in major competition. An Architect named Mick Pearce applied lessons gleaned from studying Termite Mounds––which are unparalleled in their ability to regulate temperature––and applied them to build a 333,000 square-foot structure in Harare, Zimbabwe that uses 90 percent less energy. Engineers at MIT created a wet suit for surfers that imitates the blubbery pelt found on beavers. Wind Turbines were inspired by whale tails, velcro by burrs and paint from Lotus Flowers. The list goes on.
Nature has spent millions of years finding the best answers to the questions you're wrestling with. Go for a walk. Look around. Pay attention. You might just stumble upon an epiphany.
Unlike most war generals, Alexander had brass balls and believed in leading his men from the front. Because of this, his body got absolutely pummeled over the years. He took a cleaver to the head, a catapult missile to the chest, a sword to the thigh, arrows to the leg, ankle and lung, a dart through the shoulder and a stone to the head. Over the course of Alexander's eleven year long campaign, it's fair to assume he didn't live a single day"pain free". He "played hurt" as they say in modern athletics.
You read about the absurd shit Alexander was able to pull off and its forgivable to believe he felt like a million fucking bucks. Take the city of Tyre, for example, off the coast of what today is Lebanon. Tyre wasn't really a city but a giant sea fortress. Alexander wanted to sack it but he didn't have a navy. So, he ordered his men to turn the island into a peninsula. They literally built a massive land bridge that stretched 1,000 meters to the city gates. Once the bridge was complete, Alexander marched his troops right up to the font door and laid siege.
To this day, archeologists still can't really figure out how he did it––but he did and today, modern-day Tyre is no longer an island but an actual peninsula. What fascinates me most about all of this is that Alexander likely pulled this shit off while nursing the cleaver-to-the-head injury or perhaps the catapult-missile-to-the-chest wound. He played hurt.
Nothing you nor I will ever rub up against on a daily basis could even remotely be compared to ancient warfare. However, this idea of "playing hurt" is something to reflect on. The conditions will never be perfect for you to do your best work. Greatness, at least to some degree, is our willingness to do our best work when we have every excuse not to.
Rejection is simply not getting what you want. It says nothing about you, your character or your worth as a human being. Rejection is inevitable. It's as much a part of the human experience as death is. So, why do you fear it so?
You fear rejection because you struggle with accepting the reality that you aren't always going to get what you want. I know that sounds a bit elementary but think about it. You don't ask for the raise because you're scared you won't get it. You don't ask the girl out because you're scared she will say no. You don't take a chance on your dream because you're scared it will end in defeat.
Fear of rejection leads to inaction because it's a defense mechanism. It's far easier to accept the reality that you haven't tried for something you've wanted rather than tried and not gotten what you wanted.
And so to overcome your fear of rejection––to learn to accept rejection for what it is––you must first realize that your life doesn't change for the worse after being rejected. If you don't get the raise you asked for, your life doesn't change. You never had the raise in the first place. You didn't have the raise before the rejection. You still don't have the raise after the rejection. Nothing has changed.
However, something magical happens when you learn to accept rejection, you open yourself up to the possibility of getting what you want. You might get the raise. You might fall in love with the girl. You might catch the dream.
Forfeiting rejection and going after what you want is magic in that, sometimes, it creates something out of nothing.
The farmer can till the soil, lay the seed and shower his crops with water but he can't pull on the corn stalks. Corn grows at its own pace and only when it's ready. It's the natural way of things. The farmer must learn to trust in the process that is nature, otherwise he will drive himself mad willing the corn into existence.
I think about this often when I find myself stuck on a creative project: be it a piece of advertising, a poem or an essay. Like the farmer, I can fulfill my end of the bargain. I can constantly expose myself to inspiration in the form of art, literature and experiences. I can sit my ass down in a chair each day. I can try my best to keep the cursor on my screen from sitting idle for too long. But, I can't tug on the copy, the poetry or the prose. Ideas take form at their own pace and only when they're ready.