I have been thinking a lot lately about ideas, creativity and imagination.  In my contemplation, I have noticed a disturbing trend.  Most people have no idea what is going on in the world around them and the ideas and opinions that they do hold, they have taken from their peer groups, political propaganda, social media, etc.  When did group think and decisions by consensus become the only acceptable way to “think?”  What happened to investigating ideas and coming up with a thought, idea, or opinion on your own?

When I was in college there would be these “Group” assignments.  You may be familiar with them as well.  Almost always, there would be someone who would lead the group and make sure the work was done.  This person would often do a majority of the work themselves.  There would be two or three people who didn’t have an original thought in their heads but would do the work that the “leader” told them to do.  Worker bees.  You would also have the person who didn’t show up for the meetings or contribute in any significant way but would show up for the presentation or finished product like they had helped all along.  Often this person would act like they had done all of the work and contributed the most to the project.  What did I learn from these group assignments from when I was in college?  That the majority of the group feeds off of the ambition, ideas and intelligence of the “leader.”

I have seen this behavior over and over again in corporations, non-profit boards, social media, political groups and/or anything that requires meetings and consensus decision-making.  These entities all want  ideas; but, do not want anyone to be original and/or have an idea that is different from the group.  If you state or share a contradicting opinion or different idea in front of these entities, they will try to destroy this opinion or idea.  Anything that does not follow the ideology of these groups is immediately dismissed as radical, illogical, or as a straight out lie.

Did you know that there is a term for those who have a fear of zombies?  Yes, I am talking about the rotting dead who feed on the brains of the living.  It literally means fear of walking corpses, Ambulothantaphobia.  Look it up or google it.  It exists.

I had read an article written several years ago by a cultural anthropologist that stated the popularity of zombies in modern culture was due to the numbness of most people when going through their daily lives.  The author went on to say that 83% of the people interviewed were literally just going through the motions of living.  Those interviewed stated that they would eat, sleep, commute, work, go home, interact with others, etc., but did not feel like they were truly alive or living.

This leads me to the kind of zombie which is truly terrifying.  Not a creature that feeds on the physical brains or flesh of another; but, a living, breathing person who feeds off the ideas, creativity, hard work, and intelligence of another.  This person is worse than the creature because they are alive but not living.  They go through the motions but experience nothing, create nothing and exist because of the work of others.  They are truly the walking dead.

In the film “Only Lovers Left Alive” the character Adam, who is a vampire, often laments about the zombies and how they are ruining the planet.  The Zombies pollute their water and contaminate their blood.  One of the most interesting statements by Adam during the film is that the he is exhausted by the Zombies and their fear of their own imaginations.  It is interesting because the Zombies that Adam is talking about are not the monsters of myth but the humans.

To often, people are afraid of their imagination and are even more afraid to use it.  We all have things that we don’t like to think about or don’t want to think about; but to avoid thinking at all in order to avoid living is a death in and of itself.  Living a creative life is living a thoughtful life.  Not just going through the motions.  Living a creative life is using ones imagination.  Living a creative life is thinking about concepts and coming up with ideas.  Even if these ideas go against the consensus decision-making or group think that is so popular today.

Create!  Think!  Imagine!  Don’t be a zombie.

Note by Note

Note by Note: The Building of Steinway No. L1037

This documentary is about the building of a Steinway piano starting with the shaping of the lumber and going all the way through the process to the finished instrument.  This documentary was filmed by Ben Niles and was released in 2007.

I was personally interested in the film because my friend Karen Atwood is a professional pianist.  She has a nine foot Steinway in her living room.  I love listening to her play her Steinway piano.


It takes approximately a year to make a piano.  This documentary follows one piano in particular number L1037.  There are literally thousands of small details that go into making a Steinway sound beautiful.  In our modern times the Steinway pianos are some of the last pianos that are made completely by hand.  That is why each Steinway has its own unique voice.

Not only is this the story of one piano but the story of the people at the Steinway factory, who make the instruments.  One woman, who is a wood worker and builds the pianos, has worked at the factory for 32 years.  The Chief Concert Technician from the Concert Department of the Steinway show room in New York City talked about the fact that the making of a Steinway piano has not changed in 100 years.  He went on to say that he has been working for Steinway for 28 years and learns something new about pianos every day.

One very nice feature of this documentary is the conversations by musicians and pianists talking about the pianos, how they choose them and what speaks to them about the piano they have chosen.  Another exciting aspect of this documentary is the beautiful piano music that accompanies the film.

I can think of nothing more creative than watching a documentary about the creation of a Steinway, a musical instrument that people will create beautiful music with.  I highly recommended this documentary.