Art Mind vs. Science Mind: Which Are You?

I saw The Fabelmans today. It’s a semi-autobiographical movie by Steven Spielberg where he tells the story of a young boy growing up and falling in love with the idea of making movies. It was very good, I enjoyed it very much. I had a private screening–I was the only one in the audience. Perhaps everyone else was in the second theater playing it, the one without subtitles/captions, which I chose because I like to make sure I catch every word.

I won’t give anything away. I prefer to see movies with no idea of what they’re really about. Without seeing any trailers or promos. I feel they give too much of the movie away, and this is one with its share of surprises.

That said, there are two types of people in this film, some with art minds and some with science minds and it’s interesting to me to see how they relate, and where they conflict, not that either one can ever be right, but we each fall on one side or the other.

Do you want to be (or want your kid to be) a doctor or a dancer? A lawyer or a magician? A scientist or a photographer?

There’s a magic and wonder to the idea of joining the circus, but most people would say while that may sound like fun, go get a degree and a real job. Leave the creative life for someone who doesn’t want to have job security, health insurance, or a family. If you want to make it in this world, go into computers. And whatever you do, don’t marry an artist.

I tell this having joined the circus myself. I’ve been a photographer all my life and it’s been wonderful and challenging, too. Not impossible and there’s great freedom in working for myself. But it doesn’t come with health and vacation benefits or retirement which some of my friends are already in, and I’m still chasing the next gig. (MaryLee is a Hollywood actor and writer–what a combo we are!)

Maybe for the artist, the chase is part of what makes it work. If it were to come without the chase, the uncertainty, would it be just another job that anyone could do? Perhaps.

All I know is this is all I could ever do. I’m an artist, I’ve been one all my life and no amount of money could get me to take a non-creative job. It’s not how I think.

That said, I find my need to create to be insatiable. As soon as I make a photograph I want to be making another photograph. The movie addresses this. It’s said quite clearly to be careful what you wish for, as it can take over and your need to create can become your first true love over all else.

Yes, I can certainly relate.

There’s one other movie I can recommend. Jonah Hill’s Stutz on Netflix. It’s a documentary about his therapist who Hill found to be so life-changing, he wanted to share Stutz’s words with others. There’s a lot of good insight in the film, but the one thing that sticks with me is when he says to Hill, that there are three things you have to learn to manage in your life to be happy.

  1. Pain
  2. Uncertainty
  3. You will never stop working.

If you can learn to accept those three, you can have happiness.

Especially as a creative. Those all are just part of the job. It’s tremendously rewarding, but it’s a non-stop uphill climb. There is no “made”. You just move further and further along.

My friend Michael is one of the greatest guitar players I know. He can literally do anything on a guitar. He said he always looked up to Brian May of Queen as one of the greatest rock and roll guitar legends. To him, there’s a guy who’s done it all. So Michael was really shocked when he heard May on a podcast talking about fighting depression. He’s like, “What, how can he be depressed, he’s done everything? He can’t be depressed.”

It’s easy to see others and assume they have it all. If they’re famous, they must be happy. If they’re rich, they’re living in luxury.

I can drive past a guy in a new Mercedes convertible and say I wish I had their car, but if they’re a computer tech or a medical doctor, I could never do that, would never want to do that, so wouldn’t trade with them. It’s easy to think they have it so easy, but I don’t know anything about them, how they were able to get that car. Maybe they got it with money from an injury settlement. Maybe they can’t afford it at all and are just deeply into debt.

So we all choose what we want to do and what we’re willing to do to get it.

Because at the end of the day, I don’t think the science mind can do anything other than some kind of lab work nor can the artist do anything except “join the circus”.

Watch this clip from The Offer, a film about the making of The Godfather, and in this scene, Francis Ford Coppola wants Al Pacino but the studio doesn’t. In this scene, he’s talking to a reporter who understands him like no one else does. (Yes, this so resonated with me, I recorded it off my TV!)

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