On the Shoulders of Giants


“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

– Sir Isaac Newton

The output of a particular endeavor - especially a creative one - should always consider the road that led to its creation. It will always be a long and well-traveled road, one that weaves through time and history. It has so many forks and bends, someone can’t navigate it consciously and fully, try as they may. You will always miss a step on this road; it’s impossible to know it like the back of your hand. But it is easily navigated - one can always find what they seek on it, as each step illuminates the next one. Each creative endeavor is another step on this infinite road, paving a new part that others can use to continue down the path. The destination is ever on the horizon.

That’s a whole lot of rigmarole for a very simple concept, encapsulated best by the quote from Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Who are the giants? Everyone that has come before and helped lay the foundation and markers that guide you to your creation. Creation is never done in a vacuum. It relies heavily on the experiences, learning, knowledge, and wisdom of the creator. Said creator accrues the necessary experience daily - through what they learn in class or on the job, the knowledge and wisdom they glean from teachers, mentors, family, and friends, and their day-to-day experience. It all forms a wellspring to draw from whenever the time is right (or whenever you want - after all, the creator is the one who decides when the time is right).

It’s not just scientists that stand on the shoulders of Giants. Authors, directors, composers, photographers, actors, designers, engineers - everyone, no matter their position or career, stands on the shoulders of everyone that has come before. There’s a reason that virtually every field has someone that others look up to or aspire to. There’s a reason that field even exists at all: because enough like-minded people have come together to create the processes required to turn the input into something wonderful.

Often, these Giants are forgotten. That’s their natural state, despite their importance - they live, create, die, are remembered, and finally, are forgotten (at least in popular memory; there will always be someone who remembers.)There are a few names that will persist, but the mass of them will not. But their influence will always be felt (and with a little digging, will always remain attributable). Especially now, what is created once can hardly be undone; it will persist permanently. The morass of creations might make it difficult to find the truly great works, but they are there, ready to be found and exposed.

The Giants of tomorrow are still fledgling. But that’s how the world works; there will never not be Giants. They rise and fall and will continue to do so. Each Giant stands still and available, ready to let you climb it. The climb is the difficult part. It won’t offer much help and it certainly won’t pick you up and put you on its shoulders. That spot must be earned through hard work, perseverance, and a lot of deep thought. But once you make it to the top, you’ll find something no-one else has seen. And what you find might be just what you need to grow into a Giant yourself.

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