Stanley Kubrick was an uncompromising filmmaker who did things his own way and he’s arguably the 20th century’s greatest pioneer of the medium because of it.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” — Edgar Allan Poe
They say curiosity killed the cat. That dreamers are idiot savants, with no grasp on reality. Yet it’s always the curious dreamer who dares to conceive of the “inconceivable” that changes the world.
In our current socioeconomic paradigm of “always make a profit,”risk is something to be limited at all costs. Yet history has shown that without risk, nothing new or worthwhile is ever discovered or created.
Time and time again, the most incredible, most impactful changes we’ve experienced come from listening, observing and responding to own inner voices and the needs of the world around you. In other words, change almost never occurs until it needs to.
“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” — Henry David Thoreau
Nikola Tesla dared to dream – from alternating electrical currents to the wireless telegraph — he worked to create a better world. He may have dropped out of college, but he never gave up living courageously or his servitude to humanity. Portrait by Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy.
On a personal level, it’s not uncommon to find instinctual choices outperform cunningly calculated solutions. Meaningful acts derive from a dive into the pool of the unknown without life jackets. Every act of growth requires a leap of faith and doing something that clearly has the potential to be wrong, disapproved by others or interpreted as failure. We mustn’t listen to the doubters for they’ve been proven to be wrong time and time again.
Fact is, failure is necessary. Only through experimentation and mistakes do we truly learn the most about our world and about ourselves.
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” — Oscar Wilde
So what do we make of the dreamer? The artist? The individual whom society both treasures and ostracizes. Despite helping people find beauty, joy and meaning, the artist’s unorthodox way of both seeing and doing things, implies a sort of disarray and strangeness that invites illogical fear and judgement.
For every artist out there, it takes great courage and an almost “unreasonable” approach to find new ways of seeing, listening and doing. Yet this seemingly illogical approach of going against the grain (which almost always entails enduring public mockery and, even more horribly, imprisonment) has permitted not only the most unpredictable and incredible advances in the sciences and arts but also elevates our humanity. It has given us the seed to break new moral and creative grounds on how to live and what living means.
Poet Walt Whitman believed that man’s most noble expression results from following one’s intuition.
Here’s a very brief list of some of recent history’s most daring people, their struggles and their amazing discoveries — ones that altered the path of humanity. May the memory of them and their contributions remind you of the need for you to be the very best YOU the world needs you to be:
Albert Einstein — Nick named Schweinhund (“pig-dog”), for barking and snorting in class. He was unable to speak fluently until age 12. Kicked out of academia, pursued life as a musician and stand up comic before becoming the scientific genius we know today for the Theory of Relativity and E = mc 2.
Steve Jobs — Never finished college. Laughed off the block promoting his (and Steve Wozniak’s) invention, the Apple I — the world’s first personal computer. Was fired from his first stint at Apple, the company he founded. Came back to Apple and took the company from a $4/share stock to a global empire easily worth over $700 billion today. Also founded Pixar, the world’s top animation studio.
Mickey Mouse makes his iconic 1928 debut in Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie.
Walt Disney — Fired for having “no creativity” at his newspaper job. His first animation company was bankrupted. Had his first creation, Oswald the Rabbit, stolen from him by Universal Studios and was told that his new creation, Mickey Mouse (being a giant oversized rodent) would fail miserably and terrify women. Now famous for founding Walt Disney Studios, and the iconic theme park Disneyland, he still holds the record for the most Oscars won ever at 32, including 59 nominations.
Walt Whitman — Lived within modest means. His most famous work, Leaves of Grass, was viewed as obscene and disgraceful and was widely rejected and ignored. It took till the century after his life that his work was seen as that which revolutionized poetry in his use of free verse and his unique focus on the subject of humanity and universal brotherhood.
Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s pioneering classic about the battle between man and nature wasn’t well received in his time, but it’s required reading now.
The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright — Bicycle mechanics without even a high school diploma. Discounted and rejected by their contemporaries for attempting to teach the world how to fly. On Dec 17, 1903 made man’s first flight into the skies, changing the world of transportation forever.
The Impressionists (Monet, Degas, Pissaro, Renoir, Sisley, Manet, Gauguin, etc) — Painters rejected by the art establishment and unable to either sell or show their work, created their own gallery for presentation. Opened up the freshness of color to painting and took to capturing the world around them, working at the scene of their subjects (“plein air” painting) instead of inside the studio. Their paintings are now the most widely admired and collected works in the world.
Paintings like this one by Edouard Manet exhibited at the Salon, a gallery that showcased a new wave of pioneering artists now known as the impressionists — artists who were not accepted by the art communities of their time.
From inventor Leonardo Da Vinci (born illegitimate) to poet Emily Dickinson (rarely published in her lifetime), the list goes on and on. Individuals who dared to dream, and participate actively to pursue their curiosities and enriching the world as a result.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” — Nikola Tesla
As an artist your growth only comes from new experience. Which means taking risks. Moving, oftentimes blindly and uncomfortably, towards making those initial steps — those first brush strokes or written words — makes it real. That’s something that you can build on. That’s living. Life is funnest, most eye-opening and exciting only when you don’t know what’s going to happen next. After all, who prefers to watch a ball game where the results are a foregone conclusion? Why write or paint anything that offered no surprises or deviations from the original idea? People commonly misunderstand the reason behind having goals or visions — they’re merely a starting point. Navigating the unknown IS the destination. It also happens to be the funnest part of the entire exercise of creating and living.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt