what is the magical effect of nature and music on creativity?
and what does our subconscious, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Albert Einstein have to do with it?
I’m fascinated by nature’s effect on creativity. No one has been able to explain to me why it makes you creative. Is it how random and rough things are? Such intricacy lives in every tree branch. A pasture filled with millions of blades of grass is awe-inspiring. But a single blade of grass isn’t special. At what point does the awe come into play? Somehow, in my mind that awe felt is connected to that creative effect we’re discussing.
At the 2019 DIY Musician Conference, Questlove said, “Embrace boredom. That’s where the deepest creativity comes from.” What’s a more prototypical case of boredom than a millennial or Gen Z sitting with this view of the pasture and no smartphone? What’s the implication of slowing down and being in nature on creativity?
Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of some of the most acclaimed and best-selling Nintendo game franchises such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong, cited nature as the primary catalyst for his creativity. He grew up near mountains just outside of Kyoto, Japan.
Thinking about this enigmatic eureka moment also makes me picture Einstein, sitting with his violin, playing (in the most pure sense of the word) and subconsciously working through his scientific curiosities. If you don’t know, Einstein cites music as a major catalyst to his discovery of the theory of relativity.
"The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception"
- A quote form Einstein as relayed by Shinichi Suzuki, pioneer of musical education
Einstein also thought in pictures. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Something about nature is inexplicable. Words can’t describe it. How music influences our psychology is also in a way inexplicable. If we use Miyamoto as a case study, we can say nature is also a driving force behind intuition. And if you’ve ever come up with a great idea in the shower, you’ve experienced doing automated tasks as a driving force of intuition.
When you put your mind on autopilot, the kind of autopilot that comes from repeating a task enough times that the myelin sheath surrounding those neurons is thick along that mental pathway, you give your subconscious the wheel.
Your subconscious is able to make decisions with intuition, and it has access to all of your memories and knowledge. Our working memory can only hold so much information. We can only hold 5-9 things in our working memory, but our experiences and most of the information we consumed is still encoded in our brain (save the effects of neuroplasticity).
The next time you’re doing one of these automated activities, use it to come up with your most creative ideas. If you’re struggling with a question, take a walk. If you’re a musician, play.
Showcasing some of my own creativity.