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The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

On inspiration and vision: There may be issues...

As a child, I passed long sweltering days of a Virginia summer in the shade of a willow tree with a stack of library books. Once planted on the chaise with my lemonade, I could be reliably located for the rest of the day and the neighborhood was safe from my attempts at charity, invention, entertainment and the mayhem an over-active nine year old gets up to. Little did my parents suspect that by working my way through the women’s biography shelf I was fueling an ambition far greater than my usual antics of sending my pet mice to space on a rocket I built from paper towel tubes or digging a swimming pool. (It is amazing how quickly a hole can grow when you enlist twenty or so kids with their daddy’s shovels) When the big books got tiresome and the day even hotter, I retreated to the cool basement recreation room and took refuge in my foot tall stack of comic books. I read and re-read the my favorites and dreamed about the possibilities of science and super powers. One of these "graphic novels" came to mind recently. It was about a man who invented a potion that gave him x-ray vision. How cool! He thought so too, so, not satisfied with seeing his friends in their undies, he dropped a bit more into his eyes so he could see through walls and that was really cool!! (I should note that there was a movie with the same name that came out in 1963. Genre-Horror. I was not allowed to see horror films and so had to content myself with the comic book) A creative mind is never satisfied. Our hero kept dosing himself until he could see clear across town. Sure, he couldn’t sleep because his eyelids failed to shut out his vision, but the allure of seeing it all was too much for him. He decided to go all in and dumped the whole bottle into his eyes. I can still see the frame. This troubled mad scientist, (for he was now more than a little mad,) anguish etched on his brow, as he tipped the bottle of x-ray potion into his wild eyes. What followed looked like a very bad trip indeed. As the sight everything all the way to the end of the universe flowed unimpeded into his visual cortex, chaos ensued. His vision extended farther and farther out to the bounds of space and with growing terror, he cowered in his lab coat, until...and here I reveal the secret of the universe, so if you don’t want to know the end before securing your copy of this vintage comic, avert your eyes. He saw through the vastness of space, a planet sized eye, looking back at him. Poor guy, sometimes less is more. Unable to sort the images, our poor mad scientist went over the edge of reason. The creative process sometimes feels like this to me. So many possibilities present themselves that creation becomes a matter of sorting through the overwhelming options with my intuition set to high. Filtering through the practicalities of budget and structure, I hope in the end to have something that resembles the shining glimpse I had through my own x-ray style vision. The creative life is not for the faint of heart, for what we see in our minds eye can rarely be reproduced in the real world exactly as we want. In visions there is no need for fire ratings, structural stability, or value engineering. Diving into the world of possibilities is as nourishing and refreshing as it ican be frustrating. We need contact with that world of shining possibilities because what we see there nourishes our creative light, whatever the risk and however many times we only partially succeed. (I’m allergic to the word failure and believe anything that suggests it is just a poor vocabulary choice.) Bringing back from our musings the seed of an idea keeps us going. In my work with LIGHTBLOCKS, I have met designers who have made wonderful contributions to the built environment. Artists who manifest buildings, interiors and furnishings that inspire and nourish all who come in contact with their creation, and every last one of them believes that the next project will be her best. It is my great pleasure and privilege to work with the dreamers who dare to see beyond what is possible, who stake a claim in the world unseen and bring back a bit of the magic for us all to enjoy. Thank you all for expanding my creative conversation, for including me in your process and for sharing your vision.

MaryBoone Wellington, Chief Inspiration Officer at LIGHTBLOCKS

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