The Academy Awards, in spite of my bad attitude, are actually wonderful unifying moments of shared experience. There were flourishes of gratitude: Brad Pitt and Hildur Guðnadóttir, the composer for the Joker soundtrack; and moments of reflection: Joaquin Phoenix. But the moment that is resonating in my mind is Bong Joon-ho winning his Best Director award.
“The most personal is the most creative”
It is when the Korean director, clearly astounded that he had won Best Director, gives a shout out to his hero and fellow nominee Martin Scorsese. In a moment of intergenerational admiration and gratitude, this is what Bong says, speaking through an interpreter:
Thank you so much. When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that “The most personal is the most creative.” That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese. When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honor. I never thought I would win.
He then opens his hand, gesturing to Scorsese who is then given a standing ovation and returns the acknowledgment to Boon.
We All Stand on the Shoulders of Those Who Came Before
This moment of the pupil acknowledging the teacher, even if they were not literally in a class, reminds me that we are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. There is creativity in the world that seems utterly unique. It isn’t. We don’t function in isolation; we learn from others and make incremental improvements. Some of those increments, if you are Picasso or Beethoven or Aretha Franklin, are bigger than others but they are all resting on the shoulders of our teachers.
Our Actions Influence Others
The impact we have on those around is often underestimated. We may be going about our daily lives thinking no one is noticing, that maybe we don’t matter. This is never true. People see us. We influence others to a greater or lesser degree, but we are not invisible. Scorsese never met Boon, he doesn’t even speak his language, yet Boon has “carved into his heart” — a saying he heard from him. This is a bit of a hyperbolic example as few of us have the sort of platform that Scorsese has, but we can and do influence those around us all day long, especially those younger than us. They study us, they memorize what we say, they imitate and aspire to be us.
This is the responsibility and the privilege we have. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 90 — there is someone, perhaps many, who are following you, looking for a morsel of good direction to help them navigate their way forward.
Make a Positive Impact
Carpe Diem says seize the day. I would modify that and say seize the moment to make a positive impact on someone’s life. Who can you help? Who can you show what you know? Who can you elevate?
Lastly, thank you, Martin Scorsese, for reminding me of the antidote to the dreary data-driven tech world that is ascendant today. “The personal is the most creative.” Yes.