If you are a child of the ’90s, like me, you have come to age in an era dominated by consumerism. Technology allows us to consume or to create. Constant connectivity means that we are free to choose where we would like to be, but it also means that we are overly compelled to always be ‘connected.’ This distracts many of us from being creative. Even I fall into this trap.
My first introduction to computers happened around 1991. Microsoft Paint was my first digital pastime. I would spend hours meticulously connecting lines on my father’s laptop, a Toshiba Satellite 3300 Series. For its time, it was an advanced piece of machinery with a staggering battery life of maybe 40 minutes.
Fast forward to 1995, when I received my own computer. It had a state-of-the-art Pentium 75 MHz processor and 16 MB RAM. That was some serious power. Windows 95, which came with it, was a whole new way of using the computer with its novel start menu. It was the age of Sim City 2000, Age of Empires, and click-and-point adventures like Full Throttle and Blade Runner. Those were the halcyon days. Surely many who read this will recall that time.
Computers suddenly looked to be a viable tool for creativity. Since 1995, I’ve used digital tools to boost my creativity, but also, it is hoped, be more efficient with quotidian tasks. When I first used Photoshop in school, I was happy that, finally, possibilities were limitless. Using the evolving Internet tools, I was able to do research and find inspiration.
One can peruse the Internet for countless iterations of beautiful photos overlaid with motivational quotes. Is that what we require to kindle an idea today? Where has genuine inspiration gone, I wonder? My fiancee and I often discuss this matter. She cannot comprehend how I can simply write an article, seemingly out of nowhere. What I write for you to enjoy reading does not come from anywhere. It originates in all the books, websites, and blog posts I have read and films I have watched. So in truth, we all have ideas in abundance, already. The missing link is the courage to will something into reality.
The Internet is an amalgamation of talent, genius, and beauty. Yet these items are hidden in endless rows, filled with goods and distractions — a bit like a supermarket. Over time, I have collected some useful websites where I can always find ideas to write about. Sometimes, one of my articles comes from a simple thought while watching TV or reading news stories. This should be the same whether you are a writer, a photographer, or even a programmer. Ideas spark one’s imagination, and then result in great products, hopefully. I guess the latter is privy to skill, as well.
Here is the story of continuously wasted opportunities. Long before I ended up in London to study creative writing, I wanted desperately to become a filmmaker. My parents supported me whichever way they could — mostly financially. That dream never came true, though, because I let ego bar my path. Too often, I had to feel the frustration of misjudging my own abilities. Overestimating one’s skills can be very destructive. There is, however, always salvation in the form of self-discovery. One must connect the dots, which means to combine one’s best talents to make a new skill. For me, this new skill was storytelling.
There is a man, who, by saying the following, perfectly reflected upon inspiration:
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
It is, of course, Steve Jobs who said this, during his now famous Stanford commencement speech in 2005. The closing words, shown above, encapsulate the quintessence of inspiration — always to be curious.