I sat at my brilliant idea machine trying to coax a brilliant thought from its keyboard. I had a good one by the ankles, but the little booger was holding on for dear life and I just couldn’t budge it.
Why are some ideas so reluctant to surrender to the light? Are they afraid of being judged bad ideas? Or good, but not brilliant? Do they fear being labeled stupid?
An idea is a lot like a sheet of paper going through a printer. Sometimes you feed in a blank sheet and it goes in and up and over and through and you can hear the magic words dancing across the page.
But sometimes ideas get jammed in the gears. You can just feel the thing balling up as the back-end of your mind pushes blindly forward, wrinkling, tearing, knocking down the dancing words, getting them all bent out of shape.
There are two ways of resolving a jammed printer problem. One, you yank on the page and pull out a shredded mess. You moan “Is nothing easy?” Hearing no answer, but knowing what the answer is, you ball the page and toss it to the waste basket. He stops, he pops. An easy three-foot jumper! The crowd goes…
But it bounces off the rim and rolls under a table next to a large, dead, spider. Because you fear spiders, even when dead (them, not you) you figure the paper ball can just stay there.
Or, you could lift off the top of the printer and gently tug at the scrooched up page. Maybe you’ll free it, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll tear it in half and laugh at yourself right there on the spot. Right.
Maybe you should go for a walk.
Now, if it’s a jammed mind–an idea that, let’s say, hits a deer on your neural interstate–you also have two choices. One, you say screw it and use the cutting edge of your brilliant mind to cut the thing off at the knees. Half a loaf is better than none, right? Do this too often, though, and you may have to send your mind off to be sharpened. Who knows if you’ll ever see it again?
Or you can simply let go of the ankles of the brilliant idea, put your fingers on top of your head and scratch. You might try ceremonial language like “Hmmm.” And definitely go for a walk.
That’s what I did. I examined those ankles very closely. Here’s what I had so far: Put your wallet in the freezer every now and then. The next time you think you’ve lost your wallet and you’ve looked everywhere, you can say “Wait, I didn’t check the freezer.” This gives you an extra place to look.
I did the head scratch thing. I went Hmmm. I mean, you can see how close I was to snappy profundity. Yet, something was missing. It needed maybe a tad more Parmesan cheese, if you know what I mean.
So I did the hard thing. I let go of the ankles and went for a walk. I found comfort knowing that brilliant idea guys from the past like Erasmus of Rotterdam, Augustine of Hippo and Slick Dick from Passaic had faced and overcome similar challenges.
While out, I stopped for some freshly ground Parmesan. Then I realized I didn’t have my wallet, so I walked home empty-handed. In the kitchen I retrieved my wallet from the freezer, stuck it in my back pocket and sat down at my brilliant idea machine.
But my left rear rump–my wallet rump, if you will–went numb with the cold. Which made me realize that the brilliant idea I had by the ankles was basically half-assed.
I tossed the wallet into the microwave, sat on a heating pad and thought, screw it. And screw Slick Dick from Passaic.
At least I didn’t waste any Parmesan cheese.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.