Creativity and Making: Tan

In this Ted Talk seminar, author Amy Tan briefly explains her thought process on creativity, but on a more broad scale, why things happen in the universe. In the explanation, she discusses how forces in the world control certain parts of her life that influence the creativity in her writing. For example, what brought her to the point in her life where she discovered a new idea for a story or what forces gave her the idea for a specific event in her story that she couldn’t have otherwise known.

Tan explains that for the most part, things happen because of either luck, accident, assistance, karma, or similar attributes (obviously disregarding certain religious beliefs). In this, I think that Tan is not trying to debunk or prove what makes things happen, but she is encouraging the audience to constantly beg the question. In each situation, in regard to the question, is based upon the totality of the circumstances and the answer cannot be transferred or applied to any other situation. Personally, I can relate to the slight frustration that comes with this vague explanation because this is roughly how criminal justice works. In each case, whether extremely similar or almost identical events, there is almost always a different outcome, punishment or verdict, because in its entirety, every single case is different, in regard to how and why every event took place and what they caused in return. This made it very difficult to learn the process of prosecution/defense, because there was almost never just one correct answer. However, with my experience in ultimately unsatisfactory answers, I can somewhat grasp the intentions of what Tan is trying to explain and what she has spent years trying to figure out herself. Why do things happen?

She mentions that once you realize there are signs or specific, intentional forces from the universe, you begin to focus on and notice them more often, even if not purposeful. Almost like when you find out a new type of car exists that you’ve never previously heard or seen of, but then from that point on, it feels as though you frequently see an uncanny amount of that type of car, no matter where you go.

Ultimately, Tan comes to the conclusion that you find answers only by asking the question and coincidentally the answer to the question, “why do things happen,” and similar questions, is the question itself. Something that you can only find upon exploring the purpose of the question.

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