Episode 041 – Rediscovering Discovery (Republished)
“In the past, when I’ve run up against a creative block like the one today, I walked away and told myself it would work itself out. I wasted an entire year with that disastrous plan.”
Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
This episode is republished from Season 1 and was recorded at a time that had me fighting through a creative block. I was about to give up until a little shift from convergent thinking to divergent thinking shook something loose.
There’s nothing like a spur-of-the-moment road trip through Baja, Mexico, complete with military checkpoints and street tacos to get the juices flowing. Pun intended.
Ride along with me and discover one of Baja’s unlikeliest attractions.
I’ve been sitting in the same chair, wearing the same clothes for the last five days.
My wife’s out of town. There’s been no need to shower, shave, or cook a nice meal every night. Cooking any meal for that matter.
I’ve become a recluse; obsessing over the production schedule, researching, writing, recording; then rewriting and re-recording.
Today, I’m procrastinating because I haven’t completely locked onto the flow of this episode. It shouldn’t be a surprise as I’ve barely left the house. When there’s no input, you should expect an equal amount of output.
What I do know… is this episode is about discovery. Rediscovering discovery. That’s what it says in my notes and it’s how I drew up the outline. But no matter what I write, it comes out as meandering drivel.
Preachy. I can’t stand preachy. So, I delete it all and begin again and…again.
I’ll take a shower. A hot shower usually triggers a breakthrough.
There’s science to back it up.
This is a bit over-simplified but being in the shower tricks your brain into switching from convergent thinking, where we consciously try to work out ideas in our head to divergent thinking where the brain subconsciously makes random connections without us even knowing. Because we’re relaxed and calm.
In a roundabout way, it sorta worked.
On the way back to my desk, I tripped over my road atlas. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m strangely attached to my Rand McNally Road Atlas.
It’s tattered, bent and stained. Crumpled post it notes with cryptic notations stick out from all sides. When I’m not tripping over it, it’s just off to the side, lurking…tempting my attention span.
This is how it plays out.
I let my attention drift for just a second, glance around my work space.
That duct-taped mic stand has seen better days.
I should order another set of these headphones in case they ever decide to discontinue them.
Wow… I gotta trim my toenails.
Then, I see it – on the floor – under the empty Doritos bag; my atlas. Picking it up is dangerous.
Because that little detour leads straight to the rabbit hole named Google. 20 minutes later, I’m no closer to finishing my script or…am I?
I’ve discovered a church. Mexico’s full of churches. I know you’re not impressed.
But this is not just any church. It’s a church constructed entirely from metal designed by the famous architect Alexander Gustave Eiffel.
What the hell is a big metal church, designed by the Eiffel Tower guy doing in a small coastal town in Baja Mexico?
[keys – house door]
[walking] You didn’t expect me to read you a Wikipedia page did you?
[car door – engine – shifter – driving]
Santa Rosalia is about three hours away. That means I should arrive just as the street taco joints get going. Never a bad thing!
[guard station – 3 hours later, arrival at the church]
How does a church, designed by the famous Gustav Eiffel find its way to the desert of Baja?
Well, it’s a little involved but follow me here.
Back in 1697, Spain, the ruling big dog realized that controlling a region so remote as Baja, California was like trying to rule on Mars.
So the king sent the Jesuit Order to construct a series of missions running the entire peninsula, intent on converting the native population to Christianity and the European way of life.
That’s a major over-simplification to explain how the Europeans ended up in Baja.
In 1868 a local Mexican, José Rosas finds a big chunk of rich copper ore in the desert. Two Germans find out and offer José 16 pesos to show them where it was found.
That discovery was discovered by a French geologist who worked for the House of Rothschild, the richest family in the world at the time. They purchased that mining claim from the Germans and bang… the Boleo Mining Company of Santa Rosalia was born.
So… what about the church? I’m getting there.
1887. The church was built to be displayed at the Paris World Fair of 1880 alongside another of Gustav’s creations, the Eiffel Tower.
The church was constructed of galvanized iron panels to withstand the harsh conditions in Africa. It never made it.
Shortly after the Paris Exposition of 1889, it was disassembled and shipped to Brussels for storage. Years laters, an official working for the Boleo mining company purchased and shipped it to Santa Rosalia.
That’ was the long way around but there’s a point to all of this.
The church was interesting, but I didn’t tell you anything you couldn’t have learned from the Wikipedia page. The point was to make the effort to go and see it.
These days, everything is available online. Everything…including discovery, is convenient. We’ve become allergic to inconvenience.
But something’s lost to convenience and that’s effort.
Shit…maybe this episode isn’t about discovery. Maybe it’s about effort?
No. no… it’s about discovery.
Let’s continue with the French connection; Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
I started this podcast as a way to rediscover and see with new eyes a part of my creative self I’ve been neglecting. I challenged myself to create something. Make it as good as it can be in a reasonable amount of time. Release it. And move forward.
I’ve set goals. And I can’t achieve those goals without this show. This show doesn’t happen without this episode.
In the past, when I’ve run up against a creative block like the one today, I walked away and told myself it would work itself out. I wasted an entire year with that disastrous plan.
The new tactic is to fight through the noise, focus – with new eyes – on the big picture and let it fly. Talk through the process and pitfalls, not as any sort of expert but as someone trying to get 1% better every day.
You don’t need to drive three hours to an historic church or spend a lot of money to rediscover discovery.
Maybe what you discover is right in front of you and has been all along.
You just had to see it with different eyes.
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