Rick and I were checking the Fandango app this morning and were shocked when we saw some of the reviews for The Hobbit - The Unexpected Journey. We thought it was a great movie; every bit on level with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and a wonderful adaptation and return to that world from a decade ago. It seems, however, that the critics don't agree. So so, they said, it was ok. And one really hit a mark that I feared might happen with this series:
"It lacks the magic of the original LOTR trilogy."
Rick was appalled. I was too, until I read between the lines of that review and saw what they were really saying. It isn't that the movie doesn't deliver. It's that the novelty has worn off. People saw all of this 10+ years ago. It delivers what we know and expect from Peter Jackson's work with this franchise. The problem is that it isn't new. The only thing The Hobbit really offers that we didn't see in LOTR is Smaug the Dragon, and he isn't clearly seen in this movie. I think too that I complained about that in my initial reactions to the movie. There's a dragon but we don't see him - that was my one grip about the movie. Hints and signs. No doubt they're waiting to pull out their "bad boy" next time, but for now, we wait and must settle with the set up of what we know preparing to deliver what we don't know.
This is a problem that's faced repeatedly not only in entertainment, but in real life. I call it "the novelty effect." When we discover something new there's an excitement there. We want to learn all we can about it. It captivates and interest us. The problem is that as we come to know this thing, it becomes less new and more routine. It takes more to impress us and capture our interest. It becomes routine and the "wow" factor is gone. It's not that we don't like it anymore - we still do like and appreciate it's uniqueness and what first captured us, but that captivation melts away and the bar is set ever higher. It takes more to impress us. We need something new, something surprising and exciting, to pique our interest again.
It happens in all areas of life. The job that challenged and inspired us becomes mundane drudgery after a few years. Maybe you feel you aren't learning and growing as much as you did in those first years and you're probably right - after all, once you master it, then all that's left is to find new and better ways to do the same old things. That hobby that you loved just doesn't interest you as much as it once did. You loved it before, but again, you feel stuck in a rut. You're skill level plateaued, and you aren't really excelling as much as you thought. Or if it's not competitive and it's something you do on yoru own, you, find yourself gravitating toward the same old things over and over again, and you don't know how to break free and find that spark that first drew you in. You aren't as excited about it.
In short, you get bored. It becomes a rut and you feel stuck. As we say about television, there's 200 channels and nothing all. We've seen it all. We want something new and exciting.
I believe "the novelty effect" is one thing that makes finding balance in life difficult. It's why we always need to be mindful of ourselves and the world around us, and on the lookout to inject new life in old things. It's why we need to learn to find contentment in what we have and stop to appreciate the small pleasures that things bring day to day, and not get addicted to the excitement of adrenaline rushes that are so rare. It's why we need to make sure our thinking isn't falling into a rut with our doing, and to realize how even small changes can perk us up and keep us alert to the minor variations in day to day life. Because life isn't about living from one high to the next. It's about living in the humdrum of every day and learning to appreciate and love the small blessings that make up those days, all the time. It is, after all, the small things that make up the big things. We have to work our way up to them and learn to appreciate what it takes to get us to that level.
It can be hard to simply get up and do what you're supposed to do every day. We so easily fall in those ruts. I think the secret is to challenge ourselves by shaking up the routine. It's why I revolve hobbies. I recently decided to pursue writing short stories again once I finish writing Move and Feathered Frenzy. I realized I have worked exclusively on novels for over three years, and I feel I need to expand my writing skills by delving into something I haven't done in a while. I also started cross stitching again for the first time in nearly two years because I missed it and thought it would be a good change of pace from my regular routine. These aren't big things, but they're significant enough that I feel a spark of inspiration from the novelty that drew me to these things in the first place. So no, they aren't changing my life, but they are changing my thinking, and I hope that will open my eyes and help me to keep a good perspective on my life as a whole.
As for The Hobbit, I'll have to respectfully disagree with the critics. No, it didn't drop my jaw the way LOTR did. But it was nice to return to that world and to see it again through the eyes of new characters. The different perspective brought it new life - and that's enough for me.
That's all today. Have a great weekend.
How hard is it to be original? Technically speaking it's impossible. This world has been around a long time, folks, long enough that every new idea under the sun has been discovered. There aren't many mysteries left. I believe that what we really mean by "originality" is the ability to do things in a way that hasn't been seen in a long time, or to adapt them to our personal needs or purposes.
I've often complained about "rip-offs" and "copycats," but the truth is that we all "borrow" ideas from others. I know I'm guilty. My young adult novel, Blurry, might seem like a novel concept in an age where vampires and werewolves are finding romance everywhere, but young adult murder mysteries were moderately popular in the early to mid 90's when I was a teen. In fact, you would probably find a lot of common elements between Blurry and Christopher Pike novels, who is still a favorite author. But while I borrowed the plot concept, I did adapt it to my own, unique style. I integrated elements of people, places and experiences unique to the culture I've grown up in and of course, considered the influence of technology on life in the 21st century.
I think this shows that creativity isn't about coming up with something new. After all, we've established that this world squeezed out everything new millenia ago. It's about how we adapt our ideas to fit our unique personality and life. There may be no new ideas, but there are an infinite number of ways to mix them up into new combinations that are fresh and "new" to us. Rick recently discovered this when he was surfing the web and found that another church in our area used the same design template for their website as he used for the Mt. Tabor website. It was similar but not identical, and very interesting to see how they adapted the same basic design to fit their needs, while Rick chose to use it a completely different way to fit our needs.
We also recently noticed that a church nearby is doing something very similar to our church's "Share Our Stuff" day, which is a free thrift day for the needy in the community. It was funny - Rick asked if it made me mad to see them use our concept and I said "heck no! There are so many needy people around that I wish every church in town would rip us off on this one!" Let them run with it and do it their way, as long as it works and helps people.
Of course, there are some instances where people are just being copycats, and this can be irritating, especially when they do it with an "anything you can do, I can do better" attitude. I can't stand it when I spend time and effort to do something, then somebody copies it and says "check out my great idea!" It's irritating and transparent. Any igit can improve on something that already exist or follow a lead. It takes real creativity and ingeniuty to come up with something different and have the confidence to be the first to do it. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery - after all, it's how trends are born - but it can also be an insult to your individuality. I think this is why so many women get mad when they see someone else wearing the same dress as they are. Sure, we know the manufacturer is cranking them out on the assembly line, but it's OURS. We want to be the only one in our corner of the world rocking it in that dress!
I think the important thing is to realize the difference between imitation and innovation. Sure we all borrow ideas from one another and that's ok. But if you're just doing it to "keep up with the Joneses," well, that's pathetic and insecure. I've learned patience with this as I've grown up and grown in wisdom and I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. But you better not be carrying the same purse I am, or I'll be pissed.
That's all for today. Happy Friday to you and I hope you have a great weekend.
Hi all; I hope you're doing well and having a great weekend. It's been full
of the unexpected for me. My old Toshiba laptop bit the dust yesterday. Funny
thing is, I've been expecting this to happen all summer. I'm not sure why -
maybe because it's been running like crap - but I've suspected it was on it's
last days for a while now. People thought I was being paranoid, or just spoiled
and wanting a new laptop, but yesterday my fears proved true. We went to Best
Buy to get a new hard drive, but found a great deal on a Dell, so we got that
instead. We got the display model so they had to keep it until today to clean it
up and make sure it was alright for personal use. Today has been spent setting
I'm glad to have a new laptop, but the problem is that I had grand plans to
work on my writing this weekend. Well, the only thing I managed to squeeze out
was the website update I planned, as you can sere. Everything else - no. So I'm woefully behind.
Oh well. I hope you enjoy the redesign, and I hope to have a few more extras added later in the week, God willing.
So that's been my weekend. I hope you're doing well and that the new week
starts off well for you. Take care.