Wednesday, November 25, 2009
When Ideas Take Flight
Ever since those stupid twisty light bulbs came to be, the “ah-ha!” moment has just not been the same. By the time one of those bulbs gets to full brightness, the idea will be long gone.
“Ah-ha” moments come at any time, mine usually while engaged in some other task like cutting the grass when stopping to write it down is not possible. Hence the need to repeat it over and over, sometimes out loud, so passing neighbors think I have completely lost my marbles. Fortunately some ideas occur under normally acceptable circumstances such as staring out a window. Never assume that a creative person who is staring out a window is looking at what is really out the window. In my case, the window frame, the way it is divided by panes or blinds, the contrast of light and dark, the shapes of what is outside in relation to the edges of the frame, the scale and perspective of…….okay, you get the idea.
One particular life altering ah-ha was the result of pigeons. It was college English class (back when we called all language arts programs “English”) and I was totally tuned out of whatever was happening because my seat was near a window. The window overlooked the corner roof of the library so the relationship of the edge of the building to the window and how the light changed each time I was there held endless fascination. One day, the edge was occupied by a row of pigeons, perfectly content to sit there and get ruffled by the wind, much like the other students in my class. All except for one bird, one stupid bird that kept flying away and coming back as if to get the other birds off their birdie butts. I watched this bird the whole class. We got to be buddies. The blonde and her birdie buddy. Weird.
The next class, there they were again, all lined up on the rooftop, sitting on the edge of possibility watching their one comrade test the winds and get more aggressive and adventurous as the winds shifted. Today that pigeon would be diagnosed ADHD and booted off the edge of Bierce (the name of the library) once and for all, destined to challenge squirrels for dropped potato chips and poop on those who do not contribute. Birdie Buddy kept trying though. Off he’d go (random gender assignment since I was not about to search for pigeon parts), back he would come; off he would go, longer each time. Those birds sat there for about a month before it probably got too cold and instinct clicked in.
One day, they were gone. I felt very sad at the loss of my “friends”. But I never forgot them. I looked around the class at the room full of pigeons and realized that my Birdie Buddy had taught me far more than the professor at the front of the room. When everybody else is content to sit on the edge and wait out the wind, those who have the most fun (and success?) are those who jump off and go with the currents, sometimes with and sometimes against, but always moving. We can try to encourage others to follow us, but when it does not work, nature proves they will move when it gets too uncomfortable to stay put. In the meantime, we will be that much further ahead, fat and happy on potato chip crumbs and pooping all over the windshields of trucks carrying those danged light bulbs to market.