Baking Cookies & Pulling Triggers


Last night I baked cookies, a lot of cookies.

It's because I'm manipulative.

This afternoon I have a creative meeting. For four hours I am locking into a room some of the best creative and musical minds I know. My goal is to get them to start thinking and dreaming about Christmas. What will it sound like? What will it feel like? How will this moment melt into the next? Should this piece here, perhaps, come as a complete surprise?

But it's mid-August, it's all hot afternoons and beckoning beaches. No one is thinking about Christmas except for me. But days like these—ones in which the stars are aligned and the schedules of talented people suddenly intersect—are few and far between. So I need to make the most of it, and to do that I need them to be fully engaged.

I've done my homework. I have a treatment, a rough draft of a script, and a mood/inspiration board that will do some of the work, but not enough. So there will also be twinkling lights and carols playing softly. There will be the smell of sweet cocoa, marshmallows, peppermint, and plates piled high with the cookies I made last night. These things will add some fun to the proceedings, and the extra effort will go a long way toward letting these friends know that I care about them and appreciate their help. All good things.

But there's more to it.

The Christmas season is full of memories and emotions, full of funny stories and sugar-plum dreams, but all of this often sits buried inside us, hibernating between New Year's and Thanksgiving. I need today's team to draw from this wealth of memory and emotion, and I'm hoping that the smells, sounds, and tastes of Christmas will help to trigger their minds and hearts to fully inhabit a season that's still a long way off.

Yes, I admit that it is manipulation, but my conscience is clean because I do it to myself all the time. In fact, I've been listening to Christmas music on my commute for the last two weeks. The other day, before I ever sat down to write the first word of the script, my first stop was at Starbucks to pick up a cinnamon dolce latte, the best approximation of the smells and tastes of Christmas. (And a far cry from my usual black coffee!) These things are powerful triggers that, when pulled, can take our minds and hearts to places we remember but never saw coming.

But it's not just at Christmas. All of life is full of triggers. Some summer afternoons I'll be driving with the windows rolled down, and I'll catch the whiff of a scent that immediately transports my mind to the memory of riding my bike through a field near my house in Ohio when I was six-years-old.

And I think for every creative person there are triggers that help us work. There are places, sounds, and sights that encourage us to do work or to do better work. Perhaps it's a walk through the park just before sunset, or the sight of an uncluttered desk. Or maybe it's the smell of a fresh ream of blank pages, or the call of a brand new brush. Perhaps it's the song we can't stop playing on repeat, or a glance at the silver-framed picture on the bedside table.

We each have triggers, things that inspire us, that transport us, that make us think differently and make us want to get to work... NOW.

Today, let's pull some triggers.