Mountain and Sea

“Last summer, I read a book by David Bohm, the physicist, called Order, Science, and Creativity. They gave chimps paint and found that they’d rather paint than do anything else, they even forgot to eat. The only thing that stemmed the flow of the hated word, “creativity,” was when they began to reward them for painting. I have seen in my life again and again what fame does to people…” —Hedda Sterne

This quote, which I found in an article about being famous, beautifully summarizes the cost of our obsession over fame. Let’s take, for instance, an exciting trip we’re going to take without knowing the destination. While the initial goal is to merely be surprised, to discover, and feel enjoyment, societal order and group dynamics are keen on sending us all into the same terminus: the land of fame, award, or admiration. The destination is almost chosen automatically. It’s accepted that before we even set off on our journey, our final destination has already been chosen.

To attract attention and admiration with our work is something we all enjoy. Rewards are a sign that we’re not only on the right path, but also moving faster than others. Reaching a certain prominence makes us believe that we’re better at what we do. As if life has been marketed as a mountain and we’re obsessively climbing; because we’ve been conditioned to climb.

But what if life was a sea? Boundless, wavy, even sometimes stormy, a sea where no one could find a place to climb a summit. A sea where all of us could float into different directions and arrive at different shores. An endless sea where some directions make us happier than others, to a point where we forget to eat and where fame, reward, and admiration become superfluous compared to the satisfaction of creation and discovery.

Swimming well in that sea and releasing our bodies to the water are the forces that keep us alive.



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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