Posted: December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

The overarching theme of my blog is “random thoughts,” so on the TED Talks page I searched for “random.” And, in a meta-twist of (random) serendipity, some of the links that resulted were for talks about creativity — a topic also close to my heart — so then, in random fashion, I searched for “creativity” and found these interesting talks (which also mention the term “random“):

An unexpected benefit from this exercise was finding the TED Playlists page, which then led to finding these lists of fascinating links:

Comparison and contrast of the talks

All three of these talks (Amy Tan, Jarrett K, and Julie Burstein), discuss the lives of creative people. However, while Jarrett speaks only from the perspective of his personal experiences, both Amy Tan and Julie address universal creativity and the common threads found in creative people’s lives. Jarrett’s description of his life arc shows how he encountered and grew from the kinds of threads that Amy Tan and Julie identify.

Amy Tan — who, like Jarrett, focused (mostly) on her life experiences — identifies these common threads of creativity:

  • something in our nature, something innate, that causes a muse-like effect
  • a sense of identity crisis
  • having a little childhood trauma
  • having a notion of death (i.e. loss)
  • looking at associations in practically anything in life (i.e. paying attention)
  • creative people are multidimensional
  • a coincidence, a serendipity, in which (creative people) are getting help from the universe
  • tension
  • how creativity happens has to do with the feeling

Julie Burstein talks about her own life but also uses interviews with several artists to illustrate the common threads she identifies as being essential to creativity:

  • tension between “what I can control” and “what I have to let go”
  • (creativity grows out of) everyday experiences
  • paying attention to the world around us
  • powerful work comes out of the parts of life that are most difficult (e.g. childhood trauma per Amy Tan)
  • pushing up against the limits of what they can do, sometimes pushing into what they can’t do, helps artists focus on finding their own voice
  • embracing loss
  • standing in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for

Which talk did I find most interesting and why?

Although all three of these talks intrigue and appeal to me a lot, I think the most interesting talk is Jarrett’s, because he presents a chronological series of anecdotes from his own life that illustrate IRL the more theoretical or conceptual ideas that Amy Tan and Julie Burstein discuss.

With Jarrett’s talk, you see the growth of a young child who, with the support of important mentors all through school, becomes an adult who is able to fulfill the innate creative nature he was born with.

What have I learned from this favorite talk and why?

The most important lesson I take away from Jarrett’s talk is that despite — and because of — the trauma and tension in our lives, if we hang in there and keep our creative spirit alive, we can accomplish the things we are meant to do.


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