Genius always starts with a question, not an answer

A while back I stumbled on a quote that appealed to me because it captured the fundamental tension between the act of creation, where everything hangs in the balance, and the choice to avoid risk and achieve little of note. "How long do you live in the question?" is from a book that I'm finally getting around to read, "Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance." The author, Jonathan Fields, does particularly good job of pointing out that if creators, or anyone else for that matter, are unwilling to take risks they will get predictable results, and of suggesting ways of living in the question long enough to arrive at a place where the initial risk finds its reward.

That can never happen when the outcome is known.

Innovation and creativity cannot happen when every variable, every outcome, every permutation is known and has been tested and validated in advance. You cannot see the world differently if it’s already been seen in every possible way. You cannot solve a problem better if every solution has already been defined. You cannot create great art if every way to stroke a canvas, connect a note, or grace a stage has already been inventoried, categorized, and laid bare for all to see. If everything is known and certain, that means it’s all been done before. And creation isn’t about repetition.

Genius always starts with a question, not an answer.

The hazards for someone like me, fueled by an interior life, is that my thoughts, whatever their merit, might never be challenged - and improved - by others. If you've been reading this blog for a while, that you know that my particular danger is walking, still, into figurative walls that others, habituated to talking to other people, avoided with relative ease. It started with the question: "am I willing to act?" and will end, I'm quite sure, in the satisfaction of knowing that the unknown wasn't something to be feared. In the end, it was just unknown.

Wayne