Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Liar, Liar Brains on Fire...

Da-Shroom-Wida-Plume, originally uploaded by goldenwreckedangle.

I like mustard. I like sweet potatoes. This is a big deal.

One of my 2009 new years resolutions was to learn to like the taste of mustard and sweet potatoes before the end of the year (not together mind you) . That may sound like a silly exercise but I've hated them both all my life so much that I literally had a hard time swallowing a bite of anything that had a hint of either one in it. I use to jokingly tell my waiter not to prepare my food in the same kitchen where mustard had been used.

Today I enjoy the taste of both of them enough to eat them fairly often. It turns out my own brain had been lying to me all my life about the taste of mustard and sweet potatoes. They are actually quite delicious.

What does that have to do with photography or creativity?

Simple - Confront your brain. It's lying to you. It's been lying to you most of your life.

Your brain is forcing you to see things the way you have always seen them. It wants you to go with what it tells you at first glance. It wants you to reject the unfamiliar and accept only what it hands you after it has applied all of the filters that help to keep you sane.

Children move those filters out of the way all the time and discover new truths and new skills at an amazing rate but in time the brain builds enough experience based evidence that it gets harder to push around. It eventually becomes a mountain that is very difficult to move and even harder to see around. Everything starts to get... predictable.

It takes a little faith to move that mountain, faith that there is more there than meets the eye. Faith is not the absence of doubt, it is the cultivation of the doubt that what you are seeing is all there is to see. Crazy hu, the idea that the seed of faith is doubt? It develops into something more, and one of the side effects is creativity, but faith sprouts from the seed of looking your brain square in the face, doubting what it's been telling you, then calling its bluff.

It's not a mustard seed, it's a creative seed, but they are about the same size, small enough to be easy to miss. You get one every time you remind yourself that your brain is lying to you. Plant one and see what grows. It may not be what you expect but it will certainly be more interesting than sitting around looking at the same mountain of predictable misinformation all day.


  1. So, if your brain has been lying to you most of your life, how can you ever trust it?

    And if this is true for all mankind, we must be committed to skepticism, right?

  2. Only if you begin by being skeptical of your own skeptisism.