My Brain, Explained: Creativity, Wild Ideas, and Where the F* Do I Go From Here?

Building saltï, a drag and metaverse character of a reggaeton and trap sensation, is it possible? Read as I try to understand my brain, organize my RV, and figure out if I can make it happen after watching The Mind, Explained Season 2.

Lately, as we tried to push the bedroom pop-out on the RV (yes, manually because the part that controls the pop-outs is broken), it was getting harder and harder to do each time. Something was stuck; pieces of wood were coming out. Travel days when you live in an RV-full time are already tiring and stressful, and pushing a heavy pop-out can seem sucky after a long drive. Still, digging into everything that’s packed under the bed (and finding a problem) is a task that no one wants to deal with.

Painting supplies, fabric, photography tools, and the cover of my sewing machine under my RV bed
Organizing all my creative tools under the RV bed…

Dealing With the Skeletons Under My RV Bed.

One day, I had to do it. I had to figure out why that was happening. The answer? All my creative supplies (canvases, paint, backdrops, lights, wigs, fabric, and more) created so much weight that the wood base was bending, breaking, and messing with the jack.

Was this discovery a metaphor for how I was feeling about my creative projects and life? Staring at this heavy pile of in-the-works, unfinished, and not-started-yet projects, asking myself, why do I have so many interests? How do they go all together? The full-time RV life is already a lot, and I still have to work; when would I actually have the time to do any of them? Am I having fun? What’s the point of doing any of it anyway? It’s not that I can live my life being a painter, a drag queen, or whatever I suddenly want to learn how to do that day. 

My partner in my adventures, Nikki, can tell how overwhelmed I am by all of this and sees my sudden purging feeling. “Why get rid of it?” He says, “You will end up having to get everything again.” It was a good point, it would be a waste, and it’s not that I won’t stop having all these creative urges ever again. 

I know that’s my nature, and that’s who I am. The enneagram exercise or personal test I did at work told me: I am an INTENSE CREATIVE. I must be true to myself, and “search for inspiration, symbolism, and meaning may create a strong relationship with artistic expression or appreciation of the arts. I know that mundane or uninspiring routine tasks will make me feel more disenchanted and frustrated.

I took a breath. I started small, organized these items, got some things to donate, moved saltï and all my drag queen tools to some bins that we got for under the couch. To better balance the room, I also moved the heavy lights and backdrop legs to somewhere else to better.

Organizing felt good and solving the bedroom pop-out issue felt good too. So then, why do I still feel overwhelmed? I am not sure where to start or what to focus on when it comes to my art? Can you actually create a drag character that sings reggaeton, AND it’s part of the metaverse? That’s ridiculous.

I needed to stop and rest, so we decided to watch some Netflix and cuddle with our dog Sweeti. A new season of “The Mind, Explained,” why not watch one of those?

The Mind, Explained: Creativity

Plant a Seed. It’s Gardening, Not Architecture.

To my surprise, the episode that comes up is about Creativity. In the beginning, I was unsure if I would be able to relax, but I went in with an open mind. Who knows, maybe I would get something out of it. 

One of the artists they talk about is Brian Eno, a British musician, composer, record producer, and visual artist. His approach of “Gardening, not architecture” is about creative ideas. He says that when you decide to explore an innovative idea, you are planting something and seeing how it grows, rather than constraining it and knowing every detail. 

That immediately resonated with me. That’s what often happens to me. I not only want to entertain a creative idea, but I unconsciously go with the idea that I want to master it. I want to know everything about it and be as perfect as I can be. I never saw it from the lens of planting a seed. 

As I watched this episode, they explained that in the brains of highly creative people, there are two more connected networks. The Default Mode Network: when we are internally focused, daydreaming, and our mind goes wild coming up with ideas. And the Executive Control Network: when we try to direct our thinking, and we start evaluating what we come up with, and whatever we consider “good ideas” to pursue. 

brain showing different sections towards the front and the back of the default mode network
Image Credit: Still from The Mind Explained S2 Episode 04, now streaming on Netflix.

brain showing the spots toward the outside of the sides and in the back of the executive control network
Image Credit: Still from The Mind Explained S2 Episode 04, now streaming on Netflix.

But what do they mean with good ideas?

It might be my impostor syndrome or my deep insecurities. Still, I feel all my ideas are ridiculous and, even if I pursue a couple that maybe I consider good, what’s the point? What is going to come out of it? Where do I start? It’s supposed to be fun, not stressful.

Let It Flow, Go With It, and Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously.

The episode goes on, and they talk with Jewel Jordan and Faith Jones, 10th-grade high schoolers that like and do Improv. Faith in the interview says, “Do not overthink it. It takes all the fun out. That’s probably why I hated it, ’cause I was like, ‘Oh dang, what I am going to do about this? What character am I going to build?’ Just let it flow.”

I know I am not letting it flow. I have overthinking everything this whole time. Last year, I was doing drag, recording a song, doing a music video, and booking my first drag show. Because I pursued those wild creative ideas, I had a lot of fun and got a dopamine rush in my brain that helped me survive the quarantine! But all this time, what I have been doing is putting a lot of pressure on myself. 

I must be good at makeup. I must know all the drag history. I must be the best at styling wigs. I must figure out how to write a song, produce a beat, record a song, and master and mix the end product immediately. Oh, and learn how to sing in the meantime and figure out how the hell to join the metaverse. saltï must be a reggaeton meta-royalty now!

She is right; maybe that’s why I am not having fun. I am doing it again, aren’t I? I am taking myself too seriously again. What am I afraid of? Am I afraid of being my creative self, being judged, or just even being exposed? What if it fails… What is failure anyway?

Fail.

A clip for an interview with Tina Fey is in this episode; as a veteran improviser, she explains, “You learn how to fail because you mostly fail.” I overhear, “we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and it never really goes away; we are often too scared to try something.” 

Simone Giertz, a YouTuber and inventor, says that “in an effort to lower the pressure on myself, to break from perfectionism, I decided to just build things that are set up to fail.” Building those things and documenting them led her to do other great things. Despite her health challenges and low energy at times, those creative endeavors took her to explore random ideas and build useful things. Just picking something and just going with it.

unfinished sketches for Guernica from Picasso
Image Credit: Still from The Mind Explained S2 Episode 04, now streaming on Netflix.

In this episode, they look at Picasso’s sketches for his masterpiece Guernica. They did not look anything like the final product; they looked unfinished and somewhat gimmicky. We tend to imagine that the process was effortless and there was smooth progress towards the final product. Still, in reality, there is a lot of backtracking and missteps.

Highly Creatives Benefit From Experimentation.

I get it, Creativity is a bumpy road, and we must allow ourselves to try, fail, and not take ourselves too seriously. But that doesn’t necessarily make me feel better. I have WAY too many interests: painting, content creation, music, acting, NFTs, Web3. How do I choose and pick? How do they all go and “flow” together? I am open to failing on all of them, but I can’t become good at all of them.

The narrator says, “If you bounce around trying different things, you might worry that you’ll never get good at any of them. But it turns out to be that kind of aimless curiosity is a perfect foundation for Creativity.” Spooky.

They go ahead and tell us about Charles Darwin, who was often flirting between zoology, botany, geology, and psychology. He studied earthworms for decades and even wrote a book about orchids. There was also this study of scientists. They identified that those with a lifetime of breakthroughs bounce between different topics more often than their mediocre colleagues. A lot of them made art of music on the side.  

Ok, that’s good to know that I am not alone, and I am not the only one with all these curiosities and ideas and just being antsy to create and create for the sake of creating.

I Get It, but Where the F* Do I Go From Here?

Yes, I learned that I’m my worst momager and critic. I often put a lot of pressure on myself and suck the fun out of my creative projects, yet I am not alone in experiencing this. But, where do I go from here?

The point, I believe, that they were trying to make with this episode is that neither Darwin, Frida, nor Einstein, or RuPaul have some kind of unique brains. We all deal with all of these different things.

I realize that I have always been this way. I am always acting, always dancing, always creating art, and finding ways to express myself. From learning how to code to change my MySpace and setting up this website, recording a cover song and doing a music video in drag, and becoming the artist that I have always been and always wanted to be. 

Maybe people will think I am ridiculous, or perhaps they have as much fun as I create or come up with something. Though, as they say on this episode of the Mind Explained, critics and questioning make better artists and creators, and while we still have to tune some of those voices down and just roll with it, and you go off of what we get. Because, like Jewel says, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. And that’s ok.

Towards the end, the narrator mentions creative people could always benefit from marrying other cultures, traveling and exposure to the authentic culture (not the tacky tourist), new territories, and traveling. Multicultural relationships, RV-fulltime living, and the ever-changing technology might be challenging. Still, I am lucky to be open-minded and intentionally live these experiences every day fully to make me a better artist, professional, and a better-fulfilled person.

Lastly, I was left with this quote from the musician David Bryne:

“You have to have this unreasonable faith in something that doesn’t exist. You have this fictional narrative in your head that this thing will come to pass.”

David Bryne

Taking Me to My Final Takeaway:

When I think about it, that’s why drag brings me as much dopamine as it does. Drag artistry allows me to experiment and bring interests and passions together, from entertaining and being silly to sewing, producing, painting, creating music, and more. 

Building saltï, a drag and metaverse character of a reggaeton and trap sensation, might be my most significant wildest idea yet. Still, it might allow me to explore all these mediums that I enjoy and might lead me to learn new things, particularly about NFTs, the metaverse. Whatever Web3 (the new stage for the internet) becomes as we shape it. 

Though, I do recognize that everything can’t happen at the same time. It’s ok to let the mind wander and explore creative ideas, but also be more conscious about what makes sense to study further at the moment and prioritize. My biggest challenge, prioritization.

Maybe I won’t produce a reggaeton album right now that I can sell as an NFT. Still, I can learn more about drag, explore who saltï is, and maybe enjoy the process and research as I put all these pieces together. On its own time, as it flows. 

It’s unclear where this will take me, and I’m still unsure what these ideas will become, but I am ok with that. My intention for this site is to allow myself to do that, experiment, document. I know that following these breadcrumbs and training my brain connexions to find balance, I can enjoy the ride and use that satisfaction to the other areas in my life.

2 Comments

  1. Hi there, thanks so much for putting this article together. I loved the VOX explained episode on creativity too and your post has really helped bring together some of the concepts that resonated with me. I wish you all the best with your creative endeavors 🙂

    • Hi Pooja! Thank you for your comment. It brightened my day! I feel I just wrote that yesterday, but it has been a few months. I think it was a good turning point for me as an artist; the last few months, it has been INCREDIBLE on the web3 space, and allowing myself to look at my art as gardening, for example, has been so delightful and exciting!

      I hope you are well too! Stay creative.

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