Creative Men Should Be Called C-Men (and other things we can learn about semen)
This may be a strange way to start a writing session that will eventually end up referencing Jesus, but I there’s no way of making it not weird so here you go: last night before I went to bed, I was listening to scientists talk about semen. Yes. That semen. But they were talking about the very first time someone ever saw an individual sperm under a microscope. You see, society wasn’t always blessed with the opening credits of Look Who’s Talking, and not every middle schooler in history had to take that class. So could you imagine the surprise when someone takes their…eh hmmm…and puts it under a microscope? It was 1677 and back then science was just really getting going. People had no idea how babies were made other than through sex, but how did the baby develop? For something to be considered alive then, it was all about movement. So when the guy is looking at semen in the microscope, what he saw was movement. Shocking really, because this [stuff] came out of himself.
So he goes on to report his findings and all of these crazy theories start to form about what this all means. Some people even believed that as the improvement of microscopes of the time came along, that you would be able to focus down into the “head” of the sperm and find a little man in there waiting to be hatched in a way.
Now, I do have a reason to be talking about semen, though I suppose I could have substituted any discovery in its place, but where’s the fun in that?
The reason is the analogy of discovery. Ah yes, discovery. In our culture, us “normal folk”, you and I for example, have lost the mystery of discovery. The coolest part about the guy who was microscoping his own semen was that he was a draper, he worked with fabric. Anyway, life has been dulled down already for us. Which is kind of cool in a way, but in most ways, science has taken a lot of the fun out of life. Because if I were to look at my semen in the microscope for example, I would be seeing something that I have already seen in educational films my whole life. I wouldn’t be having theories about how there are little men in my semen because science has already told me that this is absurd. The thought of the earth being flat was not a crazy idea, it was just proved crazy. Nothing surprises us anymore. I can’t get on a sail boat and hope to find a new land. Everything has been discovered.
But friends, this is why creativity is important.
And this is why creativity in our time should be bursting at the seams.
I understand that there are many fields of exploration to be explored, many vaccines and cures to be discovered, but those fields have sort of left out the normal guy (probably for the better). I will never crack cold fusion or cure cancer. But I can use my imagination, just as those people are, to create. It is more than likely that I will never step foot in a place that has never had a foot on it before, but I can allow my imagination take me to places that you will never see. My outlet is writing, but yours will be something else.
I can’t imagine the look on that guy’s face after he looked down in the microscope and saw life. Just because there aren’t many discoveries left, doesn’t mean you have to stop discovering. There is kind of this instinctive curiosity built into a lot of us that often goes through life unchecked. A desire to discover, but when you’re like me you see all the scientists and people a lot like Bear Grylls or something doing all the fun stuff.
But here is the kicker. Every time I sit down to write, every time my fingers begin to move, I go on a journey. Every time I string together words that have little business being together I am peering down into a microscope of semen. When ideas become tangible, readable things, I am thrusting the flag of my imagination into the soil of some new world. Then I realize, maybe all the best discoveries in life haven’t been discovered, maybe we just let science and explorers find the easy things, the things we can touch and feel and see. What remains to be discovered is a scary world of imagination and beauty, lyrics and music, and something no one else can see. What remains is creativity.
For more information about semen and sperm…listen to the RadioLab.org podcast, the episode entitled “Sperm”.