On the radio this week, I heard a story I’ve been unable to find any where, but it goes right to the point. When you see something wrong and think you might have a solution, pursue it. In the story, the owner of a hotel chain found himself dealing with a host of disgusted patrons one morning. It seems the assistant manager on the night watch noticed a bug problem right outside the hotel, and every time a patron opened the door, bugs were getting inside. The problem lasted all summer, every summer. Having been a fisherman, he went out on his own and bought catfish to stock all the pools around the hotel. He figured the catfish would eat the bugs being born in the decorative pools around the hotel. However, what happened was a disaster. The cats and racoons of the neighborhood ate very well and very messily that night leaving bloody fish carcasses all over the place. On the positive side, the owner recognized an employee trying to solve a problem and promoted him. What’s more he started an annual award in his company for employees trying to innovate, and the award doesn’t care about the end result, only the quality of the idea. I wish I could find the link for who told the story.
As kids, we innovate all the time. We find the tipping point of the blocks. We curse when the car we just built won’t run because the wheels don’t touch the ground. We try to find short cuts in all of our chores. This is normal, this never accepting the world as we see it. Maybe it is because we haven’t quite determined how the world really is yet. However, somewhere along the way, I think many of us become concerned with our success rates and the costs of our failures. We start to cringe and look for failures. “How could this be right? I have peaces left!” Somewhere along the way we begin to think those left over peaces mean we didn’t follow the directions and jump to the conclusion the extra peaces are a bad thing. What if instead they are just extras to be used for some future project, a bonus?
I love when O invents a random “alien language translator” so he can talk to his “other birth parents.” He is after all, half alien. I love when A starts to change music to match our discussion’s topic. Some of them are humorous even if sung at a very high pitch and decibel. Even K has found ways to beat a syncopated rhythm with what music she hears. None of this changes the head pounding noise produced, but that’s my problem. I want to do as little as possible to rein in these behaviors. These fits of imagination are our future. It may not be anything they create, but I’m loathe to do anything to put them in a culture where being wrong has huge social costs. How much of our life today comes from the imaginations of previous generations? Tractor beams are no longer star wars born mythology, and the communications devices from Star Trek are now our phones.
To my mind, our willingness to invest time and money trying to solve problems we see rather than just live with them has been the calling card of American culture. We think of Trump as a successful business man despite the times he filed for bankruptcy. We think of Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, as a success because of the money he made without ever thinking of the time he and his family spent living out of their car while building his business. Success comes from being willing to be wrong often enough to find great instances of being right.
With medicine, I think the U.S. medical field has been so successful in part because of an embrace of the scientific method where we test the theory of “this medicine does works better than nothing/alternative therapy.” We, as a society, invest millions and then spend many more millions trying to prove ourselves wrong. I’m not saying we do this optimally, but we do it. The hard part is figuring out where we as patients fit on this model. Are we willing to accept what we have now as “good enough” to look no further? MS research has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and some are even beginning to challenge the basis of how we answer the basic question of “does it work?” Do we look at spots on an MRI or patient disability progression and over what time period? I am of the opinion I want to try the most effective therapy available, even if there is no published data on what taking it will do for or to me over years. As it stands now I have taken Tysabri for 6 + years, and there doesn’t seem to be a cohort in front of me to tell me what I could expect in years 7 to 10 or even 30. I guess I’ll find out.
With my kids, all of them have medical issues. We as a family are constantly trying to find what works and doesn’t with each kid. Each is a miracle doing far better than any should have expected when they came into our lives. I hope they never stop trying to live better and grow their knowledge base of what works or doesn’t for them. Lord knows some of the therapies suggested, imagined and tried have failed, but some have stuck. I don’t have many doubts one or more of them will grow to surpass all I have imagined for them. That said, providing them with the building blocks of health and knowledge they will need sometimes feels like a task for Sisyphus.
A bit of Greek mythology: Sisyphus was a Greek king who was chained to a boulder and condemned to push it up a hill…every day…only to have it roll back down, forcing him to start over. It is said in various myths he tricked various beings to take his place including Thanatos whose job it was to bring the dead to the underworld. I wonder if his real mission wasn’t to push the stone to the top but rather trick some one to take his place. The story was told to convince listeners of what may happen if they cross Zeus or try to challenge anything in the natural order. Even kings of man can run afoul of the eternals. Still, I wonder if perhaps Sisyphus who was thought to be doomed to a torture, never knowing happiness again and only feeling frustration, was able to still find happiness every time he found a way to change the world as he knew it rather than accepting the way it was. Even if his success was fleeting, he was able to change his world. Isn’t this all any of us can hope?
Who knows, maybe we too can hope to find joy in the world going round and round?
(Video of picture coming soon)
(Video of picture coming soon)
Side story from this week for any who doubt why it’s important to be nice to customer service people:
On Mon., I got an email saying the computer I had just bought at Costco was going to be delayed in shipping due to a much higher than anticipated demand. The estimated ship date was the end of March.
On Wed., I figured I would write and offer to pay the extra for Microsoft office version they were selling, but I offered to pay the $50 I expected to pay away from Costco. 15 min. later I got an email saying that item was sold out too. I expected as much since it is the same computer. I wrote back thanking the customer service agent and saying I figured it was worth a quick email as I was now only out 2 quick emails and had gotten good polite customer service. I said I figured this was a good trade for me.
On Thurs. morning, I open my email to see a notice my computer has shipped, 2 weeks early 🙂
Lesson of the morning/day: Be nice for goodness sake.
I really hope this film comes is released:
I really hope this film comes is released: