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“The most gifted members of the human species are at their creative best when they cannot have their way” (Eric Hoffer).
ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS ABOUT US IS OUR ABILITY TO FIND SOLUTIONS WHEN WE’RE FACED WITH PROBLEMS. Nearly every day we see evidence, either in our own lives or those of others, that the old adage is true: “necessity is the mother of invention.” When our path is blocked, we find an alternate route. When we’re frustrated, we find a way to make progress. When no tool exists that will serve our purpose, we invent a new tool. We’re a creative species, and it seems there is no end to our inventiveness.
Unfortunately, human beings have not always used their inventiveness to good ends. Many of the most harmful contrivances in the world have been conceived by geniuses whose creativity was allowed to run loose, unfettered by true principles or worthy values. And so we need not think that inventiveness is a good thing all by itself. If true goodness is to result from our ingenuity, our creative powers must be harnessed and disciplined. When we answer the call to be inventive, it must be in the pursuit of goodness only and never evil.
The world would be a better place, for example, if we would use less of our inventiveness to get what we want for ourselves and more of it to help supply the needs of those around us. If we could manage to be even half as ingenious and clever in helping other people as we are in helping ourselves, the world would be improved radically.
And speaking of our relationship to others, the most inventive force in the world is love. Whatever it is that needs to be figured out or accomplished, love will find a way. It doesn’t really matter what the hurdle is, if a person is in love, the hurdle is likely to be cleared.
Since the things and the people we love cause us to be so inventive, we need to be wise in deciding what those things are. Almost inevitably, we move in the direction of our aspirations, creatively getting around every problem that stands between us and what we want. So, as the old-timers used to say, we need to be careful what we want, because we’re apt to get it. Our inventiveness can be counted on to get us to our goals; the only question is whether our goals are worthy.
“Our inventions mirror our secret wishes” (Lawrence Durrell).