“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
I was in Washington, DC for the past week. It is as different from Samara as a place can be. We had snow and temperatures below 0 Celsius. There are probably more cars in this city than all of Costa Rica and things move at a fast pace. There are also some of the finest museums in the world and I spent as much time as I could in them. Often I wished I could have brought my creative friends and students from Samara with me. I wish they could have the experience of seeing all that is possible.
But in a way, Samara is a better place for creativity. The combination of a slower pace, the need to make or adapt things because you cannot buy everything easily and, maybe the most important piece of all, the mingling of people from all over in close quarters, is incredibly valuable. DC is an international city, but it is quite possible to live here for many years and never be exposed to cultures other than your own. In Samara we mix it up, because we have no choice and I think that might be one of the secrets to this place.
In his famous quote (above), Steve Jobs spoke about the importance of making connections where others cannot see them. A happy life in Samara requires doing this on a daily basis and the sources for stimulation are boundless. Nature, culture, technology, and scarcity of materials make a creative stew that can be very exciting.
Of course not everyone gets it. Some find and stick to the familiar. Some get caught up in the relaxing pace, losing their creative drive. Creativity is possible here, but laziness comes easily too. The key is not to ever let yourself get too comfortable. If you aren’t being challenged, if you aren’t a little scared, you aren’t doing really good work.
Artist Jaime Koss has been an important mentor for me here. His work is exceptional. He is the real deal – a true artist- and everyone seems to know it, but he does not sit back and say, I have arrived. He gets up early every single morning to study and to work. He does what all successfully creative people do. He studies what has been done by great people who came before him, he pays attention to and appreciates where he is and the unique gifts this place offers and he connects the dots in wonderful creative works that combine the art of European and American Masters, Latin American traditions and the wonders of Bongoland (his name for Samara). He is never satisfied. He is always learning. And even if it is uncomfortable, he would rather be vulnerable than stagnant.
This place IS special and things do happen here that could not happen anywhere else, but they happen to the people with eyes wide open who are exploring and stepping out of their comfort zones, who fail loudly and miserably and keep going , who learn a new language, dance a new dance, never abandoning who they are, but neither clinging to who they were.
So if you are here to make music, write a book or a play, paint a masterpiece, create a new cuisine……remember that this place is special, it is a gift, but you will only get out of it what you put in. This is a place that demands mixing it up, taking a chance, stepping out and going for it with all you have.