Sunday, January 13, 2013

"What Makes You Tick?"

It all started back in early July of 2007, when a friend of the family (now my brother-in-law) asked me, “What makes you tick?” Not being one to think very hard, I gave what I like to call “textbook answers”: things people have told me and others about myself. I said, “Books make me tick, and nature makes me tick.” True enough, but deep down, I felt incomplete in saying that I had claimed such material things as the essence of my being. For the next thirty hours, the question nagged me. “What makes me tick? I know it’s not books or nature, so in essence I all but lied to my friend, but if not those, what? Why am I drawn to not just a specific book, but many kinds? Why does nature draw me, and not specifically sunshine, rain, lush forests or bare deserts? What about those things captivates me? Is there something in common between those two?” The question had been asked about 6:30 pm on Saturday. Exactly thirty hours later—12:30 am Monday morning—I had my answer.

            Creativity: the art of making everything basically the same, but minutely different. The art of taking the same old, and making it brand new. The art of introducing an old concept without ever letting on that your audience has seen it before. This is what I was; this made me tick, drew me to certain kinds of music, types of literature, and all of nature, because God is an immensely creative God, and in all the world, there is no other living tree, growing wild, that is exactly a clone of the one that could very well be in your backyard. Cloning is a man-made concept, not God’s idea. God doesn’t clone. He makes it new, fresh, and unique. The best man can do is repeat the same thing over and over, doing it exactly the same every time, as evidence in the popular music in this present day and age. It all sounds the same: loud, obnoxious, and repetitive. God can do the “same thing,” but different every single time; and He can do it all out of absolutely nothing.

I love that; I love God.

            Nature is one of the creative things I love. It is a big part of my world; it is my world. The uniqueness in all the trillions of gazillions of trees in the world, even every different animal; this is what intrigues me. The way we can line up everything and nothing will be exactly, perfectly, 100% like its neighbor, yet everything ties together, even just a little bit; I like that. I also like the size of my world: from the vastness of the universe to the size of the wavelengths of which atoms are comprised. It is so breathtaking to me to stand on a mountainside, or in a tall building, or lean against the window in an airplane and just see as far as my eyes will go. To watch the mountains and the trees and the ravines slip by as I pass them. I love traveling for this reason: every split second, there’s something new, even at a stop light in the middle of town. Even if my car isn’t moving, there are the pedestrians, and other traffic, and the pigeons, and the strays, etc. It is so magnificently glorious.

            A second thing I love: books. Books are like . . . I don’t know. Verbage, words, literature, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, all of these are my strongest points in academics. If I lost any one of my major senses, I don’t know what I would do. At least with sight I could still make myself understood through words, but not being able to hear, or speak, or sing, now, that would kill. As I study the fundamentals and elements of literature, I can appreciate it so much more. Good books are still good, but now I know why I liked them. I am drawn to the creative ways authors make their points. When I read fantasy books, I enjoy them not just for their content, but for the quality of the workmanship. Sure, you can state it the way we’ve all heard it, but what if you chose to come at it from a totally different, totally untried and unexpected angle? It’s still the same truth, just . . . different. That is so totally cool, man.

            Here is why it would be hard to live life without ears: I love music. I love fiddle music and Celtic music for the same reason I love books: the different angles. Sure, we’re in a certain key, but within each key there are myriad modes, tones, and related keys. Fiddle players know their way around these different aspects, therefore they can “tweak” it, play with it, and throw you the same key in forty different angles. It’s all the same key, just . . . different. I love symphony music for the same reason I love nature: the pure grandeur of it all! It is fantastic to be in the top row of the balcony, and the sound just envelopes me, and carries me away to the splendor of mountain ranges, or shady glens, or mighty waterfalls, or quiet streams. All the different parts, brought together into one glorious symphony. Wicked awesome? Oh yeah.