Musings: On Riding the Tech Wave

The feeling of surprise and joy washed over me.  It took about a half an hour, but I finally found the way to activate the drop down menu on the web site, in order to post a submission.  The site design was classy, sophisticated – I admit.  However, the GUI tricks were new to me, and for one of the pencil-paper generation, definitely not intuitive.  I began to wonder – Why do I feel happiness when I muddle through the techno-gizmos of the early 21st century internet, when others are overcome by (understandable) frustration?

Perhaps it can be attributed to one of the paradoxes of creative people [1] – the tendency to be both playful and disciplined.   Seeking the solution can be as much fun and as rewarding as gaining the end result, and having the persistence to muddle on to the end.  This trait is not a function of biological age.  It can explain the tremendous surges of new work in the last chapters of an artist’s life, as when Philip Johnson delighted in the experiments of the younger Charles Moore and other (soon to be titled) “post-modernists” and designed the ATT building in Manhattan with a “Chippendale” top.  As a young designer at the time (yes it WAS decades ago), I was inspired.  The apostle of apostles of the Modernist architecture was openly blaspheming the very “principles” that built his reputation.  Perhaps the building itself wasn’t as thrilling as the Taj Mahal, but the moment in architectural history was seminal.  He rocked.  As he said himself at an informal talk I was so fortunate to hear those so many years ago – “You can’t just keep doing the same thing forever.  Life keeps changing, so so must you.”  Or words to that effect.

I have a few decades yet to reach the advanced age Mr. Johnson was on that spring day in 1978.  I have taken his life lesson forward with me.  I listen, watch, look, and read with as much interest the musings and works of the peer group of my niece as I do to those who have been sanctified as “the masters”.  The next great idea is just around the corner, and perhaps is in that discarded notebook left at the bus stop.  The journey includes checking out the texting, tweeting, and Facebooking universe.  Occasionally it means learning something new on how to operate a web site.  Success may not mean a Pritzker or a Pulitzer, but it feels good nonetheless.

[1] This is one of the ten paradoxes of creative people itemized by the psychologist Mihaly ….{cut/paste} Csikszentmihalyi