Adaptation: Not Always Second-Hand

hummingbird and orange flowerOnce again, a word-origin is revealing a hidden coherence: ap, which becomes apt, adapt, aptitude, adept and inept. It’s about fittedness, fastening two phenomena, one or both of them in motion. Like dancing: the fittedness being between the music and the body, or between two or more bodies, in spontaneous or rehearsed choreography (on a ballroom floor or in a relationship). Or like the expression of a talent into perceptible form, the relationships being beetween the inspiration, the embodied being, the expression, and the result.

“Ad-apt-ation” (towards fittedness) sounds and feels one way if you’re focused on biological or behavioral evolution, another if you’re a screenwriter or other creative artist, another if you’re an engineer or executive. The place where they all connect is in the original essence of fitting, fastening.

Three events in 24 hours launched the “ap” fascination: (1) a creativity seminar (prep for which had spurred my own blog post on the topic), (2) Charlie Kaufman’s talk at BAFTA about the writer’s art (followed by watching his Eternal Sunshine and Adaptation films again, with no need to see Malkovich yet again 🙂 ), and (3) reformatting some writing samples for a potential client.

The hilariously depressing Kaufman film Adaptation portrays a sensitive idealistic screenwriter and his alter-ego blockbuster-brained twin creating a Hollywood script from an arcane article in The New Yorker. What they were adapting (fitting) to was the formulaic environment of “what sells.” The clichéd parallel universes of art and commerce are what Kaufman so touchingly resolves in his BAFTA talk. But the struggle for fittedness – between an intensely felt inner beauty and a fractious outer world – started to get my attention.

Then I remembered the science seminar that rearranged my brains in 2003: a three-night talk revealing how evolution proceeds as a complex adaptive system, not as unilinear gladiatorial combat. Each shift in each participant in a system alters the environment. Each participant in the system then responds to (and again changes) the new environment, flourishing or languishing across mutations and generations – a perpetual chaotic cotillion of change. “Adaptive” thus started to feel much more creative and universal (wow, I can shift this a little (adapt/fit) and connect where the momentum is strongest), rather than a self-denying weakness (gosh, I guess I’ll just have to adapt, to fit into this unpleasantness).

Both of these ideas greatly amplified the blog-thoughts I’d had about creativity. The key, I think (for the artist-self first, before the entrepreneurial), is to center in the core of the heart’s wishes, and perceive, from there, the environments that are inviting adaptations, and then respond creatively to them – rather than starting with the flatland outer appearance of a powerful “other” and self-contorting to fit that. Resonating with this higher/deeper origin point can accelerate the vibrational updraft for everybody – personally, and in what’s generated from the interaction – yielding fittedness in a higher-vibrating realm.

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