friday quotes: improving on others

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.

I sometimes feel that I’m improving on the work of others without actually contributing anything new of my own, because I read a lot.  It’s not true, of course – this blog represents my thoughts and my writing, and I haven’t copied anyone’s thought processes (other than my own) in posting here.  But I do feel from time to time that I’m just borrowing the ideas of others in posting.

I wrote recently about the importance of the creative act and about early acquisition of skills.  I had that message reinforced strongly while watching an infinitely forgettable music video yesterday.  It was a live video of a rock group.  It was one of those “life on the road” videos showing them on the bus, setting up for the show, meeting the fans, yada yada yada.  If you know me from reading the blog for a while you might guess it was in a foreign language, and you’d be right.  But the moment that impressed me was when a young fan, standing in line for an autograph, finally met his “rock heroes” and shouted out in a foreign language that they didn’t understand that they were the central meaning of his life (loosely translated).

Now, I understand teenage hyperbole.  I also understand media craziness – I’m sure the video was cut just so.  But I was struck by the fact that this teenager was so influenced by this band that he told them they were the meaning of his life, knowing they didn’t speak his language.  He leaned forward over the autograph table and gushed.  He didn’t expect them to understand, he just wanted to thank them.  Isn’t that another tribute to the power of the act of creating art?

I’d like to meet someone who doesn’t think that it would be fulfilling to create something that would prompt someone else to cry, hug, jabber when they met the author of that something.  I’d love to be in that situation.  I think most creative types would, too, and most non-creative types are just looking for a chance to do the same.  It’s why we all post on Facebook.  But if you want a chance to express yourself, just ask.  There’s lots of people – like me – who are willing to help.  The world needs more – not less – opinions!