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Believing in the inevitable reality of a thing is essential to its potential.
In the X-Files episode, Quagmire (Season 3, Ep. 22), Mulder holds out hope for the existence of a prehistoric Nessy-like creature (nicknamed, “Big Blue” by the locals), believing it to be the cause of several gruesome deaths near the shore of a lake. Later, he is attacked by an alligator and concludes, along with Scully, that this animal is the more likely culprit.
At the end of the episode, Scully asks Mulder:
“How can you be disappointed? That alligator would have gone through half the local population if you hadn't killed it.”
He replies, “I know. I guess I just wanted Big Blue to be real. I guess I see hope in such a possibility.”
As he and Scully turn away from the water and walk inland, we, the audience, are treated to a brief glimpse of the creature surfacing in the moonlight.
Mulder’s unwavering belief in the metaphysical and miraculous is what sustains him throughout the entire series. And what he imagines, though it is often never seen, is real enough in his mind, and he makes it real for us through his infectious conviction.
In 1994, two years before Quagmire aired on television, James Cameron had a clear vision for Avatar, and he wrote an 80-page treatment for the film. Technology wasn’t yet ready to bring it to life as he imagined it, but, like Mulder, he held out hope that someday, the world would see what he saw only in his mind at the time. And fifteen years later, this is exactly what happened. He made it so.
What do they matter, our hopes and dreams? Are they pure fantasy? Escapism?
Not at all. We must imagine things that do not yet exist, or have yet to be discovered, as if they were absolutely real – palpable, inevitable, undeniable – in order for them to one day be brought to life. This is essential to invention and innovation; it is both the spark and the ever-burning fuel of the creative process.
Talk to any entrepreneur with a thriving business. Or any successful author, artist, filmmaker, show creator, inventor … you hear the same refrain: they couldn’t imagine a world where their idea, product, or story did *not* exist. Once they were convinced that their creation was inevitable, they had the fuel required to bring it to life.
For those who possess this mindset, success is not guaranteed. But to succeed without belief, without a vision, without hope … this is, I think, impossible.
Imagine that the thing you have always wanted to create already exists. Hold its image in your mind until its blurry edges snap into focus. See its features as clearly as you see your own face in the mirror. Now you are on your way to making it real.
And remember to be like Fox Mulder and allow your conviction to infect others. If you believe in your idea, others will, too. And some of James Cameron’s persistence and work ethic certainly can’t hurt.
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Next time, “Two Birds, One Stylus,” with notes on the dual purpose of the art I was creating for myself with my expanding library of digital brushes.
Until then, take care of yourselves and each other, remember to be kind, and I’ll say, Ciao for now.
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