The Triviality of Impossiblities

Deborah Henson Conant, arguably the most creative harpist alive. She’s working in a new way, touring with Steve Vai this coming fall, and chronicling it in her blog:

I’m so far out of my comfort zone – so far out of my natural-ability-zone. … When I see my students experiencing it, I know it’s just their brain shifting from an old way of knowing music to a new way, and that the deep sense of disorientation and uncoordination is part of making that shift.  I know that the things that seem obvious to me, are often completely invisible to them until the structures finally become clear in their minds.

There is a saying in mathematics: Every problem is impossible until you know how to solve it, and then it’s trivial.  Confusion is a good thing.* When you are confused, that is a clue that there’s more to the what is happening than what meets the eye — you are in a rich situation, and you are on the verge of discovering something completely new, something that no one has ever known before, and you are going to make it yours.

So is confusion an essential part of creativity? Is it even possible to make anything new without feeling groundless? At least for a little bit?


* Thank you, Joe, for this lesson.

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