My friend Chris left for a cushy spa resort vacay a coupla weeks ago, leaving behind his very preggo wife Bethany–not to mention the rest of us. I kid. Chris was headed out to the TED Event in Palm Springs, Cali, and I’m just the teensiest bit jealous. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad he got to absorb the thoughts of some of the greatest thinkers America has to offer 18 minutes at a time, I’m just… jealous I couldn’t, too.
The thing is, I can! And so can you! No, the TED Event is over, but all of the A-list speakers (Bill Gates, anyone?) and their talks are available for the rest of us online. Brilliant. After Chris graciously let me in on the fact that this year’s talks will be online soon, I decided to check out what the previous years had to offer and found this little nugget from 2007…
It’s only the one and only J.J. Abrams, the genius co-creator, executive producer, writer, and director with little projects like “Felicity,” “Alias,” Mission: Impossible 3, and “LOST” to his credit, chatting it up about creativity and technology and writing and filmmaking and imagination and Tom Cruise’s nostrils! It’s all there. Here, actually.
Turns out Abrams credits his Grandpa Harry, who gifted him with a Super8 camera and the tools of imagination, for helping to drive his love affair with storytelling and mystery. Toting along Tannen’s Magical Mystery Box–a gift from Gramps back in 1976–as a prop for his 18-minute talk, Abrams noted that the box of magical goodness had never been opened and that he never intended to open it. WHAT?! What’s in the box? See where this is heading… What’s in the HATCH?!
At one point, Abrams says (this is not verbatim, folks), “Mystery is the catalyst for imagination,” and that “Sometimes, mystery is more important than knowledge.” And with that, I, along with the TED participants, ‘got’ Abrams and his style of storytelling. The sense of wonder. The excitement and tension. The superior storytelling. The gift of NOT knowing all the answers and being in control of the story. The relationship that comes from having to trust the storyteller who’s whispering the nuggets of truth to you at his discretion, because after all, he’s the one writing the story; therefore, he knows when it’s best to reveal the good stuff and how to do so.
I’ve just been schooled.