Ideas that are bigger than I can figure out

This is a post in a series inspired by Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. Read the Intro and Courage.

Have you heard of Hamilton? No, not the city – the musical.

If not, please consider this the eviction notice from the rock you’ve been living under.

To sum up (and this won’t be easy for me), Hamilton is a musical about the American founding fathers told in modern day music (mostly rap and hip hop) and language, and is also completely colour-blind casted – meaning African Americans and Latinos are playing the roles of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and everyone else.

It sounds crazy. But it is also absolutely brilliant. I’ve truly never heard acclaim like this for a show. Ever. I really could gush for a long time about this show (and I’m sorry if you’ve been on the receiving end of that), but in the interest of time, please read this and watch this.

And let me say this. I’m a Canadian who has no interest in American history, or really rap and hip hop music. So there’s absolutely no reason I should like Hamilton. But I can’t get enough of the cast recording and I’ve actually momentarily contemplated paying the equivalent of two plane tickets to NYC to see it. I’ve never heard music this dense or intricate before.

Lin Manuel Miranda is the genius behind the creation of Hamilton. He is now the guy that everyone is talking about, and the general consensus is not only is he other-wordly brilliant, he’s also humble and very very kind.

But let’s talk about this “other-wordly” brilliance. He got the idea on vacation when he randomly picked up a biography of Hamilton. He started reading and thought “surely someone has written a hip-hop musical about this guy.”

Well no. The idea of a hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers is weird. Can you imagine him pitching this to the people that had the money to bring it to life?

But what if the idea of a hip hop musical wasn’t Lin’s idea? I’m not saying he stole it, I’m saying what if the idea is an entity in itself, looking for someone to manifest it?

I know this sounds nuts, but stay with me here.

Here’s how Liz Gilbert describes ideas.

“Ideas are disembodied, energetic life form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely…Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest is our world is through collaboration with a human partner.”

That got me thinking about how God shows up as ideas.

Often we’re too distracted to hear the idea, to hear God, because we’re making too much noise. But sometimes we quiet ourselves and hear that whisper, that nudge. Other times that idea is louder than our noise, and we can’t help but pay attention. It follows us around until we do something about it, or until it moves on to someone else.

Here’s the thing. Lin probably wasn’t the only one that could write Hamilton. But the idea came to him and he worked like crazy to manifest it. He worked for six years. And it wasn’t all inspired work. I bet he had days where he wanted to give up, where he wondered if what he was doing was crazy because he was struggling to figure it out. But he kept working.

And I bet he also had days where the words flowed out of him faster than he could write them. Where he wrote something, then looked back at those words and wondered where they came from.

If Lin had only written in those inspired moments, I don’t think he would’ve written Hamilton. Because those inspired moments of creating are rare. But the more we write, the more we try, we’re playing the odds. If he had inspired moments once every ten times he sat down to create, he’s going to have way more inspired moments if he sits down 100 times than if he sits down ten times.

I need to remember this. Because I certainly have experienced that “where are these words coming from” moments. Not to the level of Hamilton obviously, but in my own way. Those moments feel awesome, but they are rare. I got into a mindset where I only wanted to write when I had those moments. And when I struggled, I thought why bother? I’m clearly bad at this.

But the more I work at it, the more inspired moments I have. The more I quiet myself and listen, the more clearly I hear the idea.

Honestly, I don’t always understand how this all works. The concept of ideas and inspiration and creativity are way bigger than I can wrap my head around.

And that has God’s fingerprints all over it.


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3 Responses to Ideas that are bigger than I can figure out

  1. Pingback: The permission slip | Choosing Butterflies

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  3. Pingback: The creating and the created | Choosing Butterflies

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