Recently I have been helping myself and others out of challenging times. Maybe things are not working out as we would have liked. Yet, in the past, these deviations from the coveted route have always borne fruit. So, as I was pondering on this, in the way described in my past post, I came across this little story about Albert Einstein:

It is, of course an interesting and inspiring story, since we know very well that the outcome was wonderful. The point is, did he? Even as he lived through that miracle year, it still didn’t probably feel like a good year to young Albert. Remember, he still didn’t follow his desired career path, he still was not recognized for all those ideas for years to come. Though they were out there, they were still not generally supported by the scientific community.

At the time of the miracle year, then, the miracle was not yet apparent. So here’s to those miracles we only see from a distance and may they materialize in the lives of those who are creating them every day.

What most inspires me of this story are the following reflections:

Einstein was stuck in a dead-end job. Yet he still had the nerve to publish those papers. He still had meaningful conversations on his own time, with people that were sounding boards to his ideas. Seeking out people to talk to about the things that matter to us is so important. I am blessed to have many colleagues around, friends, admirers of my work and mentors I admire deeply. When things go not so brilliantly I sometimes feel like hiding from the world, yet I find that stimultating conversations from close up or over the web, are never as valuable as when I don’t know what I can contribute to them. And, sometimes, I will be a sounding board for someone else’s miracle, even when I thought I should stay home.

It doesn’t feel like a miracle until after it’s happened. There’s a drive to do what your mission dictates. I am sure young Albert couldn’t help himself in writing those papers. He must have felt hopeless many times, even when he was being so productive. I imagine a tug-of-war between the Einstein that knew his thinking was sound and the guy that had to go to work 6 days a week and wonder if anyone would ever read it, let alone agree with him. Miracles can be dead ends in disguise for years.

What else is a mind to do? So, if Albert Einstein had been in teaching instead of at the patent office, maybe his brilliant thinking would have been focused elsewhere. Would he have found the best technique to get his students to understand physics? Would he have focused on not losing that position or on becoming a valued academic? Of course, research and curiosity were in his DNA, but maybe getting what he thought he wanted would have produced more of a wasteful year than a miracle one? Was boredom with his life causing his brain to fire in other directions? Quite probably. Yet we are so intent on getting what we want when we want it, that we sometimes miss what difficulty creates for our mind and souls.

When I was younger I used to think something was very wrong with me. I would think things that nobody else seemed to. I would be creative where conformity was expected and content where it really didn’t matter to me, though it did to others. My mind would go off on expeditions instead of paying attention to detail, and it still does. Today, I know it is the power of my thinking that opens and closes doors for me and others. I am more willing to ride the waves, to come up with more ideas that I can handle, and then choose to run with only a few, capturing others on paper or in enticing conversations. I am expecting miracles. I know that innovation is a Phoenix, born at the end of the previous one. So, as life goes on, I vow to celebrate the beauty of fire and the possibility of ashes. May it be so for you, also.

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Thumbnail image for You want to be right. Right?

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